The Men Behind the Glass: Campbell College and East Belfast in the Great War

I am the project manager of the ‘The Men Behind the Glass’ project. This collective title given to the photographs of many of the 127 pupils and one staff member killed in the Great War that sit in the grand Central Hall at Campbell College Belfast (CCB). These images are embedded in glass-fronted frames in the recesses of the Edwardian wood paneling in the Hall.


The Men Behind the Glass Project is a restoration, education and community engagement initiative, centered on the archives of CCB and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


It has two elements: firstly, working with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), to preserve and digitally restore the photographs; and secondly, conduct research and community engagement around the ‘real life stories’ of these men, focusing on their personal, family and community roles, as well as their military service.


This engagement includes making the college archives accessible to the wider community, academics and historians to contribute to discussion and research into the shared, and often contested, histories of Ireland during the Decade of Centenaries (2012-2022).


The initiative will also create educational resources and hold creative workshops based on the research that aim to help facilitate engagement with primary and secondary age school children in discussing and understanding the Great War.


The project works in close co-operation with a range of statutory, voluntary and community stakeholders such as PRONI, the East Belfast in the Great War project, the Western Front Association and local historical societies.