Pondering the Past

blog picture

Before I began volunteering here at Poole Museum, the history centre was simply the room I walked into and walked back out of again. Now, every Saturday, I come to the museum and the history centre is where I can delve into articles from 100 years ago, or find out about the miraculous story of one single soldier from WW1.

Before I came down to Poole Museum to volunteer, the subject of volunteering somewhere was actually approached quite hastily, after it was made clear to me that I needed to find somewhere to volunteer quickly for my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. However, when my Dad suggested Poole museum, and when I came in initially to enquire about volunteering, it became clear to me very quickly that this was something I would enjoy very much. I am doing History GCSE at school and find it very interesting- so having the chance to every Saturday, come down and find out more about the history of my local area, is something I have come to look forward to.

Reading through files stuffed with newspaper articles from WW1, I’ve discovered so much more about Poole people’s part in the war and events happening from 1913 onwards. Whether it’s marriages, deaths, stories of heroic acts or gatherings in the local parish church, it’s always fascinating finding out these events- especially when I can recognise some of the street names and areas the articles are referring to.

I have found that reading these articles has also given me more of an idea of the sheer scale of deaths that occurred during the war. When I’ve heard the statistics before of the estimated number of deaths during these wars, it’s been hard to comprehend, therefore the 700,000 soldiers that died during WW1, stay as just a statistic. By being able to see that 70% of the news reported in the papers was deaths, it has made these statistics much more real.

Through volunteering here I have also found out how many different ways there are to extend out to the public the facts and stories found here at the museum. Twitter, blogs and more are used in order to raise awareness of the findings here. I confess, I’d barely used Twitter before volunteering here, but now I can use Twitter in order to update people on events or stories from 100 years ago. I can honestly say that there isn’t anything about my time at the museum that I find particularly negative, I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend at the Museum every week.

Annabel Iyengar

Poole Grammar School History Research Group

“It was a sobering experience, yet one that left us enthused to continue the project” Thomas  Spiers, Poole Grammar School student.

Poole, the First World War and its Legacy is a project to build a website and alongside this a major aim is to engage the community to learn and discover more about their First World War heritage.

Throughout the project we want to work with local schools, community groups, church groups and the general public. We want to encourage research, explore local stories, promote the website and allow people to make a connection with this aspect of their heritage.

Poole Grammar School are one of the first schools to become involved with the project.  The History Research Group have visited Poole History Centre at Poole Museum on two occasions to experience hands on research using primary and secondary sources.

Here is an account of their visit from student Thomas Spiers:

The history research group at Poole Grammar School recently went on a visit to Poole History Centre to further investigate the war dead of 1914-18 that attended the school.  This being original research, we went open to the possibilities that the archive might present: we had little idea of how our work would proceed.  That said, with the help of several sources, including the internet genealogy database ancestry.com and the complete collection of the East Dorset Herald throughout the war, most were able to locate their subject and identify a line of enquiry.  However, the most rewarding part of the trip was the surprise of unexpected evidence and other records, such as photographs, which really brought home the personal ramifications of the research.  It was a sobering experience, yet one that left us enthused to continue the project.

Feedback from the students has been positive, showing that they value the chance to undertake original research.  For example, when asked- did you enjoy the session? One student responded “Very much, I found out more than I anticipated.”

This research into the lives of past Grammar School boys who went to war will be included on the new website.  Learning about boys from the same school who fought and died will potentially have an impact on today’s students.  This will ensure that the First World War remains within their collective consciousness.

Please contact us if you are a school, community group or individual interested in joining the project, researching Poole ancestors or memorials or just curious to find out more about the project: localhistory@poole.gov.uk / 01202 262621