Working with one of our partner’s Newcastle’s City Library, during January and February 2018, the Otherness Project introduced the participants to research skills through a number of exploratory and experiential workshops with a senior librarian, historian and a group of volunteers.
After a tour of the archives, behind the scenes of the library, the participants were introduced to the online resources that can be used to research into the participants of the First World War. For example, using a family name such as Mohammed, we were able to bring up a list of individuals with this name who were part of the war in some way through using the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s website. From here we were able to collect basic information such as date of death, age, regiment, country of origins etc. This was a beginning. And a list could be compiled.
During the weeks, the girls where introduced to different sources of information from which to gather more evidence about the Indian Soldiers involvement in the war, such as photographs and letters as well as the local attitudes and reception to foreigners through the newspaper archives for the region.
One participants said after an interesting session around the local riots about foreigners how easily people forget that one week they are neighbours and how the next they are enemies and how these attitudes don’t make sense on a human level. We are all the same.