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The extraordinary death tolls suffered on the fighting fronts of the First World War gave rise to devastating and unprecedented levels of loss for individuals and communities across Europe and the wider world. Indeed, bereavement became so widespread during the conflict that it can rightly be regarded as one of the defining experiences of the war. Historians have had relatively little to say about wartime loss, however, and the bereaved have not been widely acknowledged or remembered during the centenary commemorations of the conflict.

In order to shed light on this much-overlooked theme, a major collaborative conference will be held at the Institute of Historical Research and Senate House on 5 and 6 September that will bring historians and community groups together to explore maternal bereavement as a result of the war, an experience that was understood to be particularly painful and difficult to come to terms with. This conference is organised by Big Ideas, the London Centre for Public History, and the Institute of Historical Research. It is part of Motherhood, Loss and the First World War, an ongoing community commemoration project led by Big Ideas and funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Free resources, project ideas and funding are available to involve community groups across the UK in the project. Contact for more information.


General Information

Day 1 will be held in the Athlone Room, Senate House South Block.

Day 2 will be held in the Wolfson Conference Suite, IHR, Senate House North Block.

Participants must register on each day in advance of the start of sessions. 

Registration for Day 1 - 12.45-13:15

Registration for Day 2 - 9.45-10:15

The conference includes entry to our evening events including a live music performance. Details for these events can be found here for the evening lecture, and here for the live music performance. Both events are free and open to the public. You do not have to register for the conference to attend, but please register for the evening events via the above links if you are not attending the conference but would like to come to the evening events.


Standard 2 days - £50

Standard 1 day - £30

Concession 2 days - £25

Concession 1 day - £15

We are pleased to offer an early bird discount of £5 off the ticket price if booked before 31st July. This will apply automatically on the booking summary page.


A limited number of bursaries are available for early career researchers (those undertaking MAs or PhDs, and those within 2 years of completing their PhD and without a permanent academic position). Bursaries are available to cover travel (second-class advance purchase) and other costs associated with attending. To apply, please email with the following details:

  • Name
  • Institution
  • Stage of career
  • Approximate travel costs
  • Brief outline of your research and how attending the conference will support it (max 150 words) 

You must be registered through this event page in order to apply for a bursary. Deadline for application: Friday 31 August. 

Big Ideas is offering travel bursaries for community groups across the UK to join this conference. If you are interested in getting involved in the Motherhood, Loss and the First World War project and would like more information about the project, free resources and funding opportunities, alongside travel bursaries for this conference, please email or visit

Image: 'Mourning relatives lay flowers at the grave of a fallen serviceman, former Western Front, c. 1921' (CWGC archive).