Real-life stories make history live

1st April 2011 at 01:00
Digital resource uses individual experiences to paint picture of key periods, writes Chris Small

A digital history resource that uses real-life Edinburgh case studies is giving schoolchildren a fresh perspective on their city's past.

Whose Town? is a collaborative project co-funded with the Heritage Lottery Fund for children aged 8-13. It focuses on the 1850s-1950s, and will be used as part of Curriculum for Excellence levels 2 to 4, where pupils study key points in history including Victorian Britain and the home front during World War Two.

There are four historical strands: Victorian Edinburgh, the 1870s to the 1890s; Brave New World, Edinburgh at the turn of the 20th century (1900- 1914); Carrot Jam amp; Pudding Pie, the city during the Second World War (1939-1945); and Change in the Air, Edinburgh in the 1950s.

Drawing on photographs, documents, and recordings of interviews, Whose Town? uses the experiences of 14 individuals to help pupils gain a deeper understanding of the different eras.

The World War Two years are illustrated by four "lives in boxes". One of these is Nancy Comber (Pugh), 81, who was evacuated as a child during the war.

She says: "I enjoyed being part of this project - it's a brilliant idea and I'm sure the children will get a lot out of it. The fact that they are looking into the lives of real people - some of whom are still alive - should help to make it more interesting. It makes it like a kind of living history, which might be easier to relate to than just reading a book about someone's life."

The resource will be accessible for all Edinburgh schools via Glow and on CD. The concept may go national at a later date.

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