History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Migration 30: Why has the biggest influx of refugees in British history been forgotten?

This enquiry focuses on what one historian, Tony Kushner, has described as ‘the largest influx of refugees inBritish history’: the Belgian refugees who arrived in Britain during the First World War, as they sought to escapethe German invaders.

Surprisingly little seems to be known about this migrant group, but the numbers were significant: over 250,000 Belgians are estimated to have arrived in the early months and years of the war.

Most were housed in a purpose-built refugee village called ‘Elisabethville’ in Durham.

In the enquiry, students harvest information from a range of clues, finding out more about the reasons for Belgian migration, as well as the reasons why this migration should be considered significant.

Finally, there is a valuable opportunity for some revision/interleaving, as students are challenged to differentiate between the experiences of different ‘refugees’ that they have studied during the course: the Belgians of 1914; the Huguenots of the early modern period; and the Irish of the mid-19th century.

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  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
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  • Worksheet 1-3: PDF

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