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Congratulations to Churchill postgraduate student Cherish Watton (G17) who has been awarded the Royal Historical Society Undergraduate Public History Prize for her work on the Democratic and Critical Commemoration of the Women’s Land Army in Twentieth-Century Britain.
This is the first year the prize has been awarded. Supported by the Institute for Historical Research and the Historical Association, the prize recognises work by undergraduate students that responds in creative and innovative ways to the interpretation and exploration of the past in the present.
Cherish is currently studying for an MPhil in Modern British History at Churchill College having completed her history undergraduate degree at Lucy Cavendish College last year. She is the founder of womenslandarmy.co.uk, a website on the work of the British Women’s Land Army during World War One and Two. Cherish hopes it will become the national online hub for information on the Land Girls and Lumber Jills.
Speaking about her award, Cherish said:
"I am honoured and delighted...over the last three years, I have significantly expanded my website on the Women’s Land Army (WLA) and Women’s Timber Corps (WTC) of the First and Second World War to be the national online hub for the commemoration of these civilian organisations."
Cherish's website offers visitors information on different aspects of wartime service, photos, videos, and songs alongside extensive primary source collections, democratising access to materials which usually reside in physical archives. Audiences around the world use the website, including family historians, schools, the media, and scholars. Her research aims to refute the ‘warm-bath’ history approach which can perpetuate in relation to women’s war work. This has lead to her research informing wider dialogues in this area of history.
"I 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."
Cherish has appeared on television and radio, as well as giving presentations throughout the country. Speaking about the prize Cherish said:
"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."
Cherish is the first Churchill Masters Student at Churchill College.