4. Citizenship: Benefits of this project

(This video can be downloaded from Media Hopper Create.)

What are the benefits of this project?

Legacies of Resistance to the First World War, tries to bring to light a part of history that has largely been ignored. It is so important to recognise the brave step these people took to say “No” to war, when every other force was telling them that they should sign up. Instead, these people examined their own beliefs, their own ideas, and philosophies and said: “No, I cannot take part in that”. It’s an incredibly brave step, to say that you believe in something so much that you will go to prison, or a work camp, and have a lot of people look at you differently. It is important to tell that story.

History, as it is currently told is politically loaded. Like women’s history, and people of colour’s history, stories of conscientious objection have been largely written out of our history. This project enables us to bring these individual’s stories back into the fold, and to remember these people for their brave actions. These people, whose lives have been written out of history, have a chance to be remembered, by their families, by their communities, and by Scotland more broadly.

It is also exciting to be able to support adult learners to do this work, so that they can build their expertise and confidence through this subject, as well as develop a range of research and other skills.

How can you share back with the community?

As well as editing information in central online resources like Wikipedia, to make sure these individuals are properly represented, and that the resources themselves more accurately reflect the lives they led, the group hopes to create booklets and distribute them locally within the communities though museums, libraries, and community centres.

They feel it is important to hold events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee, to help bring the communities together. The conscientious objectors came from, and lived in these areas, so bringing their story back to the people who live there now will help the community gain a better understanding of where they live.

There is also likely to be a national event to celebrate this part of Scottish history, so that people have a better understanding of the range of views and beliefs held about the first world war, and what people did to honour their beliefs at that point in time.  

What about sharing back online?

The information generated in this project will be shared back online, and off-line. WEA are hoping to put a lot of research that is generated and written by their learners online. The Learners are the collectors, the shapers, the creators and the promoters of the information they gather. So, whether it is distributed through the WEA Facebook account, a new blog for this project, or through the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘history pin’, which helps to create a visual map of the geographic distribution of activity, there are many ways to bring the research to life, and to make it freely available for the community.

Everything that is created off-line will have a digital component to it. So, if someone is unable to attend one of the events in person, there will be a way in which they can follow it. A key aim for WEA is to make all the information they produce as accessible, and easy to understand as possible.

Can NLS help with this?

The NLS is a legal deposit library. This means that it is keen to capture all the information that is produced by this project whether digital, print or even other artefacts. It can help make the information available worldwide, and can also help by collecting finished work to archive it in perpetuity.

How important is it to share back what you find?  

History is a collection of our everyday actions and choices. We can only know our history if people are actively seeking it out and sharing it. Each of these stories is part of our legacy, our community, our country, and our world.

We can only truly understand out world if we have access to the information that has been collected about it in the past. It is incredibly, important that people from every background, people of every discipline are able to find this information and get to know more about where it is they live, where they go to work, where they go to school, or even where they go on holiday.

How important is sharing back this information from a library perspective?

This is the reason libraries exist! Whatever the information that is produced by this project, whether it is leaflets, printed matter or digital content, even tweets, the National Library would want to collect the items, and with the permission of the creators, make it as freely available as possible. That way it becomes part of Scotland’s national memory and can be used by future generations.


Thinking about the ideas you have for your own project, start by writing down every benefit you can think of that your project will have for yourself, for your community, and for society at large. Next prioritise these benefits in a list. It is likely that some of these benefits are non-negotiable, while others are “nice to have”. This list will help you steer the direction of the project as it develops.

Next think about what kinds of outputs, services, or products you would like to create. This could be starting a Facebook page, writing a blog, making a video, or any number of other ways in which you will share back what you find or what you create including commercialisation.  Some outputs will be easy to produce, others more difficult. Some will be more fun to develop than others, some will be more costly, and some will cost you in time. Decide how you want to prioritise your list of outputs and products.

Lastly, think about 3 easy things you could do right now to get the project started. Then think about the three most important steps you need to take to know that the project is viable. This may be joining a library, finding a key resource, or bringing a group of people together to help with your vision. Write these down.

Whatever that first important step is… do it now!

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