Researching World War One records
It can be hard to know where to start looking for World War One records. Results will also vary by country, which resources have been digitised and how much information survives about each person.
Many soldiers were born in one country, but served in another, so you might need to search multiple countries. Copying resources over to this page is very much work in progress and will be biased towards the research I've done so far, but I've found the following resources useful. If you know of any I've missed, please just sign up and edit the page to add them. If you'd rather not edit the page yourself, you can email me via this form.
- Find War Dead on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site
- Cindi's List resources on World War I: The Great War contains a huge list of sites to help find individual histories, but some links may be out of date
- Women's organisations on the Long, Long Trail site
Australian and New Zealand records
Many New Zealand records are held by Australian institutions.
The Australian War Memorial has useful background information on Researching Australian military service: First World War, 1914-1918 and Researching Australian military service: introduction.
Wikipedia also has a List of Australian diarists of World War I that includes the unit for a large percentage of the diarists. As online versions of diaries are found it would also be useful to update the Wikipedia list so more people can discover them.
Research Links from Medals Reunited NZ has lots of useful links for researching Australian and New Zealand records.
Looking for specific names
- Australian WWI Records Finder searches the National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial and Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites
- Discovering Anzacs
- The AIF Project has a good search for individual names
- The National Library of Australia's Finding a soldier page has further tips
- Primary Data Sources about the NZEF collated by the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Armoury Information Centre
- New Zealand Cenotaph database
- search Archives New Zealand
- Some unit diaries from the NZ Mounted Rifles have been transcribed
The The Long, Long Trail site is useful for any researcher but is particularly focused on 'The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918'. It includes:
- How to find records of soldiers of the British Army of 1914-1918
- Researching a soldier with a 'guide and tips on how to find out about a soldier of the British Army of the First World War'.
- How to find a soldier's number explains where to look for this very useful identifier.
- Other guides include How to interpret a medal index card and Interpreting soldiers service records.
- Ancestor Research & Military Genealogy information from the Army Museums Ogilby Trust
- Tracing World War 1 Family History on the The Great War 1914-1918 site
The Great War Forum is also an incredible resource - your question may already have been answered.
The Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives has a useful list of Military abbreviations including terms on British and Commonwealth orders, decorations and medals and a 'glossary of foreign terms'.
- Canadian Great War project
- Researching Military Records at the Regimental Rogue
- Research a Soldier at the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) Study Group site
In the context of WWI, the Indian army encompasses historical British India, which included the present-day countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma.
- British Library India Office Records: Family History Sources
Searching for specific names
- India Office Family History Search 'for mainly British and European people in India c.1600-1949'
The museums listed at Museums & Associations might be useful.
The Combined Irish Regiments Association has put campaign accounts taken from "A History of the Irish Soldier", written by Brigadier AEC Bredin DSO MC DL online.