Writing Lives has been an interesting module for me to partake in and one reason for this is the blog post format; it demands a completely different skillset from the standard essay format that many other English modules use. Because of this, I believe that by writing these blog posts, I have been able to hone my writing skills to become more versatile and adaptable. My usual style of writing is very detail focused which often leads to me talking about the same point for too long, sometimes in a convoluted manner, and due to this I struggled with the first few posts to be able to condense my thoughts into a coherent, accessible form that someone on the internet would enjoy reading. However, with each blog post I grew more comfortable with the format and the subject matter; as I became more acquainted with Claude Robinson’s past, my words started to flow more naturally, and I was able to present my work in a manner more suited to the internet medium. As someone who suffers with anxiety, posting my work online has always been a nervous task but seeing my classmates publish their posts and helping each other out gave me confidence in this endeavour. Knowing that my fellow classmates can comment and give feedback on my work is a reassuring thing, as we all started from the same point and can empathise with each other’s efforts.
Learning about the life of Claude Robinson has been a pleasure from the start; it was clear to me from when I first read his biographical entry that he was in a fascinating individual. I really enjoyed learning about the Jarrow Crusade and its historical significance, from the point of view of someone who was an integral part of the movement. What I gained from Robinson’s memoir was not just a historical account of the march, but a personal, even emotional recounting of a tumultuous time for Jarrow – what Robinson writes is not just a contribution to history, but a recording of the soul. He was clearly very passionate about the march and what it stood for, and this came through in his words; although the purpose of the memoir was an accurate representation of events in the timeline of his life, Robinson’s emotions and political opinions made the memoir more than just a history book. His career in education was also a point of interest for me because of the trials he faced running Jarrow School during a depression and a world war. As someone who one day hopes to become a teacher, learning about how Claude dealt with immense pressure from the parents of his students, the Board of Education and even the bomb threat from the Germans was quite frankly inspiring.
I think my blog about Claude Robinson is certainly a contribution to public history because he is most certainly a historical figure in Jarrow’s history. During my research I discovered a few articles that talked about his exploits as a political speech giver in the 1930’s, but beyond that there was not much content dedicated to him. The Jarrow Crusade is a significant event in England’s history, and I feel like my blog posts on Robinson expanded on what information is on the web about this event. By publishing information about Robinson’s career in education and his efforts as headteacher of Jarrow School, as well as his involvement in the Jarrow Crusade, the internet is now richer in context for this portion of history.
The use of social media on this module was crucial in contributing to public history. By sharing my blog posts on Twitter, Claude Robinson’s name is easily accessible to anyone who wanted to search for him, or if someone was interested in the Jarrow Crusade, with a little digging, they could find my blog and find some lesser known details about the event. My tweets are also there for other people on the course to share and read – through this effort on social media, more people can discover my work and I can receive feedback to improve it even further.
Being a part of the Writing Lives project has introduced me to a section of history that I otherwise would have never thought to encounter. The experience also improved my skill as a researcher as well as a writer and was a unique learning opportunity overall. This module was a gripping journey, and one that I have greatly benefitted from. I’m glad I was able to be a contributor to public history and get Claude Robinson’s story out there on the world wide web!
Robinson, C. (1982) These We Have Loved