Royal Historical Society Undergraduate Public History Prize Winner

I am honoured and delighted to announce that I have received the first Royal Historical Society Undergraduate Public History Prize for my work on the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Timber Corps. The prize, supported by the Institute for Historical Research and the Historical Association, recognises work by undergraduate students that responds in creative and innovative ways to the interpretation and exploration of the past in the present.

Following the encouragement of my supervisor, Dr Lucy Delap, I submitted an entry under the title of ‘Democratic and Critical Commemoration of the Women’s Land Army in Twentieth-Century Britain’. This 3,000 word essay charted the history of the website, from its birth as an Extended Project Qualification at Dereham Sixth Form College, to now being the national online hub for information on the WLA in the First and Second World war, alongside the Women’s Timber Corps.

Cherish Watton History Undergraduate Prize

I have strived to place public outreach, whether online, on air, or in person, at the heart of my work as an undergraduate at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and now as an MPhil student at Churchill College. I have aimed for the website to offer critical, accessible, and engaging histories to a range of audiences both online and offline. Collaboration has been fundamental to capturing the diversity of women’s experiences and to provide an inclusive space for the democratic commemoration of the WLA and WTC. I have wanted to move away from romanticising women’s agriculture work and offer more critical perspectives on women’s wartime experiences, which becomes ever more pertinent as Land Girls and Lumber Jill veterans pass away.

In this vein, I would like to extend a few thank you’s to:

  • The judges on the panel for recognising my work; it is an honour to be the first recipient of a prize. I look forward to encouraging other undergraduates to apply for the prize into the future.
  • Dr Lucy Delap, for telling me about the prize, encouraging my application, and for her continued inspiration as a supervisor. Many congratulations also go to Lucy for winning the Public Debate and Policy Public History Prize with Adrian Bingham, and Louise Jackson, for their work historicizing “historical child sex abuse”.
  • Stuart Antrobus, similarly for supporting my application, but also for his sustained guidance and contributions – some of which website visitors will see in the pages of this site, but much of which goes on behind the scenes. I also greatly value the friendship between Stuart and his partner Ros, which has naturally evolved from our work together.
  • Land Girl and Lumber Jill veterans and their families. It has been a privilege to record you and your family’s varied wartime experiences and to share them with audiences across the world. I look forward to continuing to commemorate your valuable work.
  • My mother, Helen, father, Paul, and sister, Skye who have accompanied me on my journey from the very beginning. They have never tired of hearing yet one more interesting experience about Land Girls or Lumber Jills. They have wholeheartedly supported my personal and professional endeavours, and for that I am forever grateful.
  • Website visitors, whether directly, via Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or other avenues. This website would not be here without your continued interest and engagement in women’s wartime work in the fields and forests of Britain.

In being the first winner of the award, I hope it highlights the valuable part which undergraduates can play in offering critical, accessible, and engaging histories to a range of audiences both online and in person.

Thank you

Cherish Watton

January 2018

Cherish Watton RHS Undergraduate Public History Prize

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