Library Services


UCL Special Collections featured on podcast

2 June 2020

The Shrouds of the Somme outreach project featured on Made in UCL podcast.

Shrouds of Somme project, 2018

In the current episode of the Made at UCL podcast, Head of Outreach for Special Collections, Vicky Price discusses her outreach work as part of the Shrouds of the Somme installation in the Olympic Park.

In 2018, the Special Collections team, part of Library Services, collaborated on The Shrouds of the Somme. This was a unique representation of one artist’s efforts to memorialise the many thousands of soldiers lost in action and never recovered at The Battle of the Somme. 72,396 shrouded figurines, each representing an individual soldier, were laid out on the lawn of the Olympic Park for Armistice 2018.

Photograph in Chambers, R W, Batho, E C, Parker, B N, University College London Roll of Honour 1914–1919. Vol. 2: Lister to Wynne. London: Donald Macbeth, 1922–24. COLLEGE COLLECTION A7.

The project was an invaluable opportunity for UCL Special Collections to collaborate. Both parties wanted to engage with local school children on the topic of the First World War, and both could offer different resources. UCL Special Collections brought teaching expertise and fascinating original primary resources from the archive and rare book collections at the university. The Shrouds of the Somme brought an incredibly arresting visual representation of the scale of loss bought about by The Battle of the Somme.

In the podcast, you can hear school children read poetry inspired by Isaac Rosenberg, an artist, poet and alumnus of the Slade School, who was killed in action during the First World War.

Vicky Price, Head of Outreach, said:

“The First World War is an immense topic to teach to young people, and providing the right stimulus and environment to allow pupils to develop their own emotional and intellectual response is a real challenge. Learning about the artist’s journey in creating the installation, exploring the life and work of Isaac Rosenberg through archival items and visiting the vast installation in the Olympic Park gave pupils the opportunity to do just that. As you’ll hear in the podcast, the work produced by young learners displays deeply meaningful and personal responses.”

UCL Special Collections is part of UCL Library Services and is home to over half a million rare books, manuscripts and archives dating from the 4th century to the present day. The department’s outreach programme increases access to the collection for local schools and community groups through teaching, exhibitions, online resources and after school clubs.

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