This piece is cross-posted from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Archive and Library blog.
Along with colleagues from other engineering institution libraries we attended this year’s History Day held at Senate House, London.
History Day is an annual history fair that allows history students and researchers direct access to 50 libraries, archives and other historical organisations who will be showcasing the research potential of their collections.
This year we are highlighting our Engineers at War online exhibition which has recently been expanded to include the Second World War.
In September 2019, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) launched an online collaborative exhibition highlighting the role of engineers and engineering during the Second World War.
The exhibition is not an appraisal of all engineering feats or engineers from the Second World War, but instead highlights those stories, achievements and roles played by engineers who were members of one or more of the three Institutions and whose material now exists within their archives.
Lasting almost six years and involving over 100 million people across 30 different countries the Second World War not only encompassed almost the entire globe but also became the deadliest conflict in history resulting in an estimate of 70 million fatalities.
The Second World War marked a shift in the nature of warfare to one that relied heavily on mechanised weaponry, advancements in technology and huge amounts of industry. In Britain, the Blitz and rationing brought the impact of War to domestic shores.
Attaining military and technological advantage relied greatly on all branches of engineering. Engineers helped to keep vital troop supply lines moving, protect civilians through the creation of air shelters and use their expertise to make military advances applicable to post-war civilian life.
The online exhibition is split into three themes; research and development, education and society, and planning and post-war reconstruction.