collection of old letters

Return to Sender: Mapping Memory Journeys in the Europeana 1914-1918 Postcard Archive

Project Team

Elizabeth Benjamin
Garfield Benjamin (Southampton Solent University)
Stefan Bernhardt-Radu
Niall O'Leary




Lead: Coventry University
Co-Investigator: Solent University
Student researcher: Coventry University
Web Developer: External Partner (freelance)


7221,80 EUR


January-June 2019

Project overview

Archives, as a combination of individual artefacts from different contributors, times and locations, are where society builds its collective memories. Europeana, as a transnational digital archive, furthers this aim in terms of both scale and accessibility. But, like the shift from data to information, memory only exists if it is recalled, used, and (re)lived. Return to Sender takes postcards as its medium, as objects that are inherently tied to (transnational) movement. Using the Europeana 1914-1918 thematic collection, our project draws out the journeys these postcards have taken, both during the war and afterwards into the archives and on to viewers. This plotting of movement can reveal a great deal about the ongoing memory of WW1.

Project objectives

The project, aiming to create new findings about how the war affected movement and communication across Europe at the time, asked the following questions:

  • How can we recapture and display the ongoing memories of archival objects?
  • How can we sustain a living memory of the objects in the Europeana archive, and thereby of the archive as a whole?
  • What can the journeys of archival objects reveal in the transnational movements of people during WW1 and into the archive?
  • What do these movements tell us about the context and memory of WW1?

Impact statement

The key communities to whom the project is aimed are:

  • Researchers working in fields of digital humanities, early twentieth century history, cultural heritage, visual arts, and modern languages;
  • Archivists and librarians;
  • Citizen historians.

These audiences have been engaged through presenting at academic events (the large annual conference of the ACLA; a research seminar series guest talk at Solent University), accessible blog posts about the project and related topics, and social media. The blog has received visitors from across Europe (the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain and Romania) as well as Turkey, China, the USA and Australia. Engagement on Twitter has included researchers and research groups, students, cultural institutions, archivists, librarians and interested citizen historians. We also demonstrated the map to the general public through an event hosted by the Royal British Legion.


  • Benjamin, E and Benjamin, G (2019) ‘Final Project Report’, Europeana. Available at:
  • Benjamin, E (2019) ‘(Web)sites of Memory: digital representations and pedagogical innovations’, ACLA Conference, Stream on Digital Production(s): The Artistic Praxis of Digital Space, Georgetown University, Washington DC
  • Benjamin, E (2019) ‘Return to Sender’, Talk and demonstration, Culture Media Place Seminar Series, Solent University
  • Benjamin, G (2019), Public demonstration of the project at the Royal British Legion Southampton Drop-In Centre, in conjunction with the Solent University Festival of Ideas
 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023