The Leeds Blitz student project
Students from Cultural Studies and Humanities have contributed to the very successful project on the ‘Leeds Blitz’.
This saw the creation of a website and an updated map showing the location of the bombs that fell during Leeds worst air raid in March 1941. The website and map were produced as part of the Public History Project module overseen by Dr Henry Irving and were a collaboration with Leeds Museums and Galleries, the West Yorkshire Archives Service and the Leeds Libraries. Antony Ramm, the Librarian-Manager for the Local and Family History Library said, “The Leeds Blitz project is a perfect example of how Library resources – including photographs, newspaper articles and ephemera - can be curated to tell a little-known but vitally important part of the Leeds story. The student team has done a wonderful job creating the website: a comprehensive and essential resource for both Library staff and patrons.”
The response to the project has been overwhelming, with 18,194 views of the webpages from 7,354 site visitors and over a dozen people getting in touch to share their own or family stories of the raid. These range from stories of incredible loss to those of unexpected happiness and nostalgia. This includes a high explosive bomb that fell within touching distance of present-day Broadcasting Place, killing six civilians and injuring two others. Read these eye-opening stories here.
To support the launch of the website, students also volunteered to carry out a range of promotional activities. Sophia Lambert wrote a blog on women volunteers for the West Yorkshire Archives Service. Leanne Speight wrote a related blog on women’s war work and the importance of photographic records for the Leeds Libraries ‘Secret Library’ blog. She also gave an interview about the project on BBC Look North. Bradley Danahar and Megan Guest wrote a personal reflection about the project for the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities blog and were guests on BBC Radio Leeds. Megan said “Creating the website was a fantastic experience and the response from the public has been wonderful to see. It really made all of the hard work worthwhile.”
The project itself was featured across a range of print and digital media, including the Yorkshire Post and the BBC News website. Bradley Danahar and Henry Irving were also invited to record a 3 minute film about the air raid for Leeds TV.
Dr Henry Irving reflected on the project and said, “The input from students made this project what it was. Most of the records were in my possession before we started and I had been tempted to write something more academic, but am glad that I didn’t as the students took the project in really interesting directions. The students all knew that they would be creating something for a public audience, which is quite different from the stereotypical idea of a history student simply writing essays.”
You can see the full project here: https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/school-of-cultural-studies-and-humanities/leeds-blitz/