History for Ukraine takes place on Saturday and Sunday 26th and 27th March. Over 24 hours — starting at 12 noon on Saturday 26th — more than 48 historians and genealogists from the UK, Europe, Australasia and North America will each speak for minutes about their research and love of history, and take questions.
History for Ukraine is the idea of the genealogist Natalie Pithers who in two weeks has brought together researchers, web designers, marketing specialists, and numerous volunteers — including many members of the Royal Historical Society who’ve offered their time as speakers and behind the scenes.
Above all, History for Ukraine will fundraise for the DEC Ukraine appeal to help support the 10 million Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their country. In this post you can read more about the event, and who’s taking part, and hear from Natalie about her motivation for creating History for Ukraine.
About History for Ukraine, 26-27 March
History for Ukraine is a 24-hour online History event to raise money for the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal.
Taking place online from 12 noon (GMT) on Saturday 26 March to noon (GMT) on Sunday 27th, the event see a host of historians and genealogists, worldwide, each speak on their research and love of history for up to 15 minutes, and then take 15 minutes of audience questions.
You can download the event poster here. Full details of the History for Ukraine ‘Speakathon’ line up are available here, with contributions from numerous Fellows of the Royal Historical Society. Selected participants include:
Dr Julia Laite
Professor Elaine Chalus
Dr Wanda Wyporska
Dr Tracy Borman
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb
Dr Fern Riddell
Professor Kate Williams
Dr Janina Ramirez
Dr Miranda Kaufmann
Dr Nicola Tallis
Charles Spencer, Earl Spencer
Professor Sarah Wise
Dr Philippa Gregory
Professor Tanya Evans
Dr Nick Barratt
Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan
Dr Tracy Borman
Dr Caroline Shenton
Dr Kate Lister
Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock
Individual talks will take in a wide range of subjects with a selection focusing on Ukraine, among them Elaine Chalus on ‘Canada and Ukraine’, Cat Jarman on Ukraine’s history in the Viking era, and Michelle Chubenko on ‘Digital Genealogy in Ukraine’.
There is no charge for attending any part of History for Ukraine. Attendees will be asked to make donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal via a JustGiving page, while they watch on the day via Livestream. Donations are also invited both before and also after the event.
Natalie Pithers on setting up History for Ukraine
As we anxiously watched Putin’s tanks invade Ukraine, we held our breath, waiting to see what would happen. Knowing that whatever did, was sure to be terrible.
Soon our TV screens were full of all the anguish we’d expected to see, and more. Families torn apart. Civilians killed. Images of desperation and destruction. We sit and watch events unfold and feel hopeless, dejectedly wondering, ‘what can I do to help’.
Throughout my life I have always turned to history in times of need. When I developed alopecia, I spent hours googling hair history, looking back to the past to understand my feelings in the present. Perhaps it’s not surprising then, that when I saw a global catastrophe unfolding before my eyes, my thoughts turned to history.
As a family historian I know how the customs and traditions of a place and its people become intertwined with the history of individuals, of families. The places we are from help to shape us, as people and as a society. Place is where big history and small history collide.
As I watched women and children flee, crammed into trains, travelling anywhere so long as it was away, I was struck not just by the immediate trauma but by how devastating the long terms affects of losing connections with one’s own heritage. To be displaced, physically, emotionally and culturally.
As I heard about Putin’s propaganda machine and its attempts to re-write history, I became acutely aware of that old adage ‘history is written by the victorious’. The words are menacing. To lose not only comes with the risk death, but with the threat of an extermination from both past and present.
Historians protect against such erasure, poking and prodding the past. Stoking the embers of truth, and analysing what arises from the ashes.
Thinking about the importance of history also gave me an idea. What if I could create a fundraising event, packed with history speakers? Both inside and outside of the academy, the appetite for history is huge. Surely an exciting array of history speakers could generate funds for the DEC/Red Cross? Certainly more funds than I could donate as an individual.
With the help of a working group comprising of all sorts of different historians, this idea became a reality. With so much Ukrainian history at risk, it feels fitting that historians should come together to try to raise funds for those whose loss of history is just one of their many many worries.