BLOG: Digital Tools in the Service of Digital Heritage

This projects sets out to realise the unanticipated potential of the AHRC 'Cultural Value' project 'Experiencing the Digital World: the Cultural Value of Digital Engagement with Heritage'. Researchers will work in partnership with the National Holocaust Centre, the Thackray Medical Museum and the Science Museum to realize the practical potential of the original project's findings on the ways in which digital tools can support the co-production of museum exhibitions with diverse audiences.

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The next stage in our project focuses on the Science Museum's new exhibition 'Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Care'. We're looking forward to working with a group of Leeds-based veterans to comment on and respond to the exhibition.

For further details, see the exhibition blog at https://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/tag/wounded/

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Webster Primary School Year 6 pupils presenting their work on the Holocaust and WW2.

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It was a privilege to attend Year 6’s assembly at Webster Primary School last week. Pupils presented work relating to the Holocaust and World War II to parents, teachers and fellow pupils, including details of their visits to the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and Westminster Abbey.
We received some great feedback about using Yarn from staff and pupils and it was great to see how well Yarn worked as a presentation tool in the assembly, allowing the class to play previously assembled video content and audio recordings directly from their story. Staff commented on the intuitive design of Yarn and the fact that it lent itself well to classroom work on tablets, whilst giving a polished finish to presentations and helping to teach pupils about how to structure their ideas. Pupils said that they enjoyed being able assemble their own work alongside videos and web content.
The performance was also attended by National Holocaust Centre Educator, Sarah Wetton, who was especially interested in how Yarn stories could provide a window onto how the Holocaust is being taught in primary schools. We hope to build on what we’ve learnt so far by putting together a knowledge exchange package. This will suggest ways in which digital engagement can be built into school activities and museum outreach and engagement.


The main focus of our project was on the impact of the Holocaust on young people like us. So as a starting point for our work, we began by making some short films about who we are and where we come from. We made four films as a class that show what a varied bunch we are and the many journeys that we and our families have taken to end up in Manchester.
From What we can learn from the Holocaust for our lives today by WebsterYr6

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A display documenting Webster Primary School pupils' recent visit to Westminster Abbey to attend a Holocaust Memorial Event. Pupils met with Holocaust survivors and, later, produced their own artwork in response to the visit.

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After another activity filled day at Webster Primary school, yesterday, pupils have made great progress with work on their class Yarn story, detailing all of their work studying World War II and the Holocaust. The story will feature films, artwork and writing by the pupils and will be shared with our project partner, The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, who are planning to launch their new Media Centre in the near future.

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My Mum looks upon childbirth as being incredibly straightforward. She was blessed with a very simple birth, and I managed to be born without any additional support needed from the hospital. I arrived so fast the nurse barely had time to call for any support! My Mum had my Grandma with her, as my Dad was working on a building site and didn't have a mobile phone back in the 80's, so he didn't know I was on the way. The building is really imposing, and was designed originally to house some of the poorest in society at their greatest need. I had just done the Victorian era in school for history and had read all about Workhouses. When I went to the hospital with Mum years later, she showed me the room I was born in. I was amazed it still looked like a workhouse even though it was a hospital when I went back as a child. My Mum stayed in hospital for a week, whereas now I believe you get out much quicker. My Mum is still very proud that I was the baby they chose to show all the new mums in the ward how to change a nappy on because, Mum says, I was so well behaved (probably I was the least wriggly!). Mum loved this as it meant she barely changed a nappy in the first week of having me. Mum also told me the Matron came in each morning and asked how the 'little redhead' is doing. My Mum insisted on replying that I wasn't red, it was strawberry blonde. I was ginger Mum, you're fooling no one.
From Being born-something we all have in common! by Lauren

Thackray Medical Museum Curator, Lauren Ryall-Stockton, has shared her own birth story on Yarn.

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A traditional style of crib used in Afghanistan

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At our workshop, yesterday, members of a local community group shared their memories of this traditional style of crib used in Afghanistan. We also learnt about Afghan approaches to swaddling and use of cloth nappies. As well as sharing these stories on Yarn, we're hoping to represent the stories digitally within Thackray Medical Museum.

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This is a set of womb moulds from 1838 that show the various stages before, during and pregnancy. This appears to be a teaching tool, probably used for the training of male midwives. While this is a set of sixteen moulds, unfortunately four of them are missing and therefore only the first ten and last two moulds are pictured below. The accompanying leaflet is written in German and has not been fully translated. It appears to be explaining how the moulds were used. We hope to find out more about the moulds and leaflet through further research.
From Womb moulds - a nineteenth-century education tool? by ThackrayMedicalMuseum

Our project partner, Thackray Medical Museum, has created a Yarn story to showcase one of it's more unusual artefacts relating to childbirth:

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This suitcase was bought over to England by Bob Norton when he and his family sought refuge due to the increase in Nazi persecution. This small suitcase did not contain many items, but has been lovingly cared for and used for many years since. The stickers indicate where the case has been, both before and after it came to England.

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How can we use objects and images to tell a story?

That's the question we've been asking pupils at Edna G Olds Academy, Nottingham, and Webster Primary School, Manchester at our filmmaking workshops. Pupils brought in pictures and objects which told us something about their background or family history and developed their interviewing techniques before having a go at filming their own mini-documentaries. We'll be adding footage to Yarn stories which pupils will create in response to a visit to the National Holocaust Centre.

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An original drawing from the book 'Our Lonely Journey' by Hans Jackson. The book focuses on the Kindertransport. This drawing shows a mother with her children at the train station.
(From the National Holocaust Centre's collection)

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We're looking forward to leading a filmmaking workshop tomorrow at Edna G Olds Academy, Nottingham. Pupils will be developing their interview techniques and understanding of how we can use objects and images to tell a story, ahead of their visit to the National Holocaust Museum. After the visit, we'll be developing the skills and knowledge they have gained by introducing Yarn and encouraging the pupils to create their own stories.

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We're currently looking for participants to take part in our workshops at the Science Museum in July and September. We'd like anyone who's interested in taking part (whether or not you're a regular museum visitor) to tell us what you think about the Science Museum's forthcoming exhibition 'Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Care'.

The exhibition will explore how medical practices were altered by the events of 1914-1918 and will also highlight the long-term impact on the lives of soldiers and civilians who were left physically and mentally affected by the war. We’d like to know what you think about how these issues are represented within the Science Museum.

Email us to register your interest: wounded@sciencemuseum.ac.uk
Find out more: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/wounded

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Would you like the chance to share your experience of childbirth?

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Sharing experiences of childbirth

In our work with Thackray Medical Museum we are inviting local parents to tell us about their experiences of childbirth. Parents will work together with Museum and University staff to explore how digital tools can be used to tell their stories and develop an online exhibition.

We'll be hosting a drop-in session at the Museum on Thursday 17th March, 5pm-8:30pm, so that anyone who is interested in taking part can come along and find out more. If you'd like more information about the event or this part of the project, please contact the Project Officer, Rosie Wilkinson (r.h.wilkinson@leeds.ac.uk).

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This is the cover image from the educational cloth flipchart used in Afghanistan.
From Cloth flipchart - an education tool from Afghanistan by thackraybirthstories

Project launch event

Yesterday, we were joined by representatives from each of the three museums we're working with to make plans, discuss our aims and introduce Yarn.

Thackray Medical Museum's Lauren Ryall-Stockton brought along a fascinating collection of educational cloth flipcharts from Afghanistan, which we used to start the Yarn story quoted above.

We also met with teachers from two of the primary schools who'll be working with the National Holocaust Centre, as part of the project, and began to make plans for a week-long programme of activities which will involve visiting the Centre and responding to exhibits and survivor testimonies using Yarn.

As an Archive Partner, the Science Museum has already uploaded a substantial amount of material to the Yarn library. We're really looking forward to working with Alison Hess and Lorraine Ward and inviting museum visitors to respond to upcoming temporary exhibition 'Wounded', opening in June 2016.

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Welcome to the new Blog!

The AHRC-funded project 'Digital Tools in the Service of Digital Heritage' has officially begun! We'll be kicking off, at the end of February, with a workshop for our museum partners, where we'll be introducing Yarn. As well as being the home for the project blog, Yarn will play a key role in helping the museums and their audiences to co-produce material for exhibitions.

We'll be posting regular updates as the project progresses but, in the meantime, you can find out more about the project at http://www.digitalheritage.leeds.ac.uk/.

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