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Title: The Birkirkara police reports during World War One
Authors: Buhagiar, Rodney
Keywords: World War, 1914-1918 -- Birkirkara (Malta)
Police reports -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
Police -- Malta -- History-- 20th century
Crime -- Malta -- Birkirkara -- History -- 20th century
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: Buhagiar, R. (2019). The Birkirkara police reports during World War One (Bachelor’s dissertation).
Abstract: This dissertation focuses on identifying patterns of crime during the Great War in the village of Birkirkara based on police reports. These reports are so detailed that one can recreate village life between 1914 and 1918. All type of reports from petty thefts and incidents to more serious crimes were lodged at this Police Station. Working on this topic has proved a challenging experience. As often happens in research, one gets more curious about the contents of untapped historical records as one goes along. I was intrigued with the police reports because they represent a mixture of crimes. My supervisor, Dr. Simon Mercieca, suggested that I take a look at the Police Reports and sure enough, after a few hours spent reading the first documents, I was convinced that I should continue with this research. My interest in this topic stems from the fact that I hail from Birkirkara and I am interested in the history of this locality. From meeting up with the older generation when I used to hear that, in the past, the majority of Birkirkara residents were poor. I was also told that during World War I, there was a soldiers’ camp in the village. This information spurred me on to investigate the veracity of these facts. I wanted to establish whether what I had been told was mere hearsay or otherwise. In fact, after the first few days of research, the effects the Great War had on Birkirkara started to come out very clearly. Whenever I discovered information that corroborated these facts, my thoughts turned to persons I had met and spoken to. Although I did not come across members of my family listed in these reports, I recognised people I knew from photographs and whose names and surnames kept cropping up in the history of Birkirkara. In Malta it is normal to give nicknames to family surnames and also to individuals. Some nicknames listed in these Police Reports have survived and are still found being used to date and Birkirkara is no exception. To provide a better picture of life in Birkirkara during the First World War, I decided to delve into these reports and carry out a comprehensive analysis rather than focusing on the study of one particular type of crime. I am fortunate to have had a good guide. The dissertation submitted by Gabriella Grima to the History Department in 2017 on the subject of crime helped me to appreciate better these reports and understand the wider significance of these Police Reports. Although there is an incredible vast amount of material available, I have collected them under four major headings: Theft, Maintaining Public Order in Birkirkara, Family, Gender and Sexuality, and the Presence of War Soldiers and their Impact on Birkirkara; dedicating a chapter to each voice. The first three are the most important for they convey the real image of social life in Birkirkara during the First World War. The last offers reflections on the different social and cultural dynamics at work, including the village feast or festa of Birkirkara. I chose to include this aspect in this last chapter for two reasons. First, I am myself a festa enthusiast. I am on the committee that organizes the major feast in Birkirkara in honour of St. Helen. Therefore, the research for this chapter reflects my personal interest in this particular field of study. This chapter gave me the opportunity to analyse how the feast of Birkirkara was celebrated at the turn of the twentieth century. The second reason is that I was intrigued and honoured to read about those who were involved with the Birkirkara festa at the time. Some of these individuals have been forgotten forever. Their names have survived thanks to these Police Reports. Finally, I hope that this study will induce me to undertake a similar study on social life in Birkirkara during the Second World War.
Description: B.A.(HONS)HISTORY
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2019
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 2019

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