A hundred years ago, around 250,000 Belgian men, women and children came to Britain after the invasion and subsequent occupation of 95% of their homeland in the opening stages of the First World War. Many settled during and also after the conflict, taking on jobs and becoming part of the local community. Despite this large number, their histories are still not well-known. The Tracing the Belgian Refugees project is hoping to change this.
A database will host the findings of researchers in the UK and Belgium. It will be accessible to anyone who would like to use it to input information they have found about a Belgian refugee, and to view the information others have shared. Communities and academics in the UK and further afield have already traced hundreds of Belgians in exile in villages, towns and cities. The project aims to pool some of this knowledge and to provide an online resource which will give a bigger picture of the refugee experience. And trace some stories forward to improve knowledge of this crucial moment in international history.
Are you interested in the history of Belgian refugees in the UK during the First World War? Have you been involved in researching them in your local area? Maybe you have family stories or objects that you’d like to share? Come along to the first of our UK workshops, where you will get to know the database, and have the opportunity to meet other people in your area who are interested in this history.
Monday 17th December, 1pm - 5pm at Central Library Manchester.