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Young historians from West Yorkshire curate First World War exhibition ‘In Their Footsteps’

Posted  11 May 2016 in News  
By Hannah Clark
Postcard - embroidered postcard with multi-coloured floral motif. Mauve text reads 'Accept upon your birthday.' reverse reads 'Dear Annie. Please accept this card from me, wishing you many happy returns of your birthday. I only wish I was with you and we would celebrate it. Best wishes, George T.A.' dated Wednesday 30th August 1916 © Leeds Museums & Galleries. Wartime Wedding - portrait of wedding couple, taken during the First World War. © Leeds Museums & Galleries.

The First World War was a conflict on a massive scale, claiming the lives of millions and having a lasting impact on those who survived and were left behind, both on the home front and overseas.

To pay special tribute, the Preservative Party, a group of young history enthusiasts based in Leeds, West Yorkshire have curated a unique exhibition at the city’s flagship museum, exploring how the lives of people from their region were affected during the First World War. The exhibition, ‘In Their Footsteps’ at Leeds City Museum, will open on 1 July – the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

Running until 8 January 2017, this major city-centre exhibition will showcase the First World War’s impact on local civilians, soldiers, nurses and industrial workers. It will reveal a variety of communication methods, from official telegrams to biscuits transformed into postcards, as well as fascinating finds including a doll’s house made by a group of recuperating soldiers.

With the help of West Yorkshire Archive Service and York Army Museum, the Preservative Party has knitted together touching, individual stories from those caught in a global conflict, as well as collating a special collection of items including a Victoria Cross and personal diary extracts.

Eleanor Smith of the Preservative Party, and one of West Yorkshire’s young curators at 20 years old, said, “It’s such a privilege to be able to work with these unique museum collections that constitute a vital part of our city’s history. We’re really excited to get the exhibition up and running and look forward to encouraging other young people to get involved when we open in July.”

Ruth Leach, Curator of Leeds City Museum said, “It’s extremely refreshing to see such a young team of historians with a keen interest in the First World War, and we hope the exhibition will resonate with other young people as it’s so focused on individuals from their home towns. There are some really exciting items going on display which draw on the nationally important Leeds Museums and Galleries collection, so it’ll be a real coup when we open to the public in July.”

Throughout the exhibition, the museum and the Preservative Party will host a number of talks and tours to make up their events programme. These will include war horse tales, stories from overseas soldiers as part of Black History Month and poetry and performance activities in association with Leeds Grammar School.

Find out more about the exhibition on the Leeds City Museum website.

Follow on Twitter @LeedsMuseums @PresParty #InTheirFootsteps.

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