Originally installed in the moat at The Tower of London in 2014 as part of a national cultural programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, the amazing display of handcrafted ceramic poppies was conceived by the artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper. Massive crowds were drawn to the display of 800,000 poppies that represented the lost British and Commonwealth soldiers who fought in the campaign. A smaller section of the installation, entitled ‘Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window’, then travelled to 19 sites across Britain between 2014 and 2018. Many of the poppies have been re-imagined into a new installation that can be seen at the Imperial War Museum (IWM)North from today, which will be their new permanent home.
There was an interesting article in The Economist a while ago about the recent economic crisis and the problems of using history analogies. Reporting on a lecture by Barry Eichengreen, economic historian, the article argues that the 2007-2009 has been judged to be the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The problem with using historical examples, however, is that there is rarely agreement about what history teaches us or, indeed, even about the facts themselves. The author cites examples such as the fear of 1930s style debt inflation that causes the central banks to cut rates whenever markets wobble, or the belief that World War II would resemble the defensive stalemate of World War I, which allowed the Allies to be pushed back. He concludes that historical analogies can be thought-provoking but that the parallels should not be taken too literally since history rarely repeats itself exactly.
This morning I was disappointed to see that the small exhibition about the role that railways played – and the roles that women undertook on the railways – during World War One had disappeared from Victoria Station in London. However, a Google search has revealed that it was planned as a travelling exhibition and can now be found at Liverpool Lime Street Station where it will remain until 29 November. Not many people stopped to look as they hurried to work or to their trains home, but those that did were engrossed. So I urge you to take a look if you’re in Liverpool and to keep an eye out for it wherever it may go next.
It was great to hear on the radio this morning that Staffordshire Archives had been awarded funding to catalogue the records of tribunals for men appealing against conscription, which was introduced during World War 1 in 1916. But why oh why did the reporter have to describe the records as “just been discovered”, as if they’d been hidden away and no one ever knew they were there! Of course the archivists knew they were there. They wouldn’t deserve to be in their jobs if they didn’t know the contents of their strongrooms. Sadly, though, stories about archives just don’t seem to be deemed newsworthy unless they contain the words “discovered” or, even worse, “dusty”.
My thoughts, views and musings about what's happening in the world of archives and records management, information and governance, heritage and culture