World War One:About

From Linking experiences of World War One
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In their own words: linking lived experiences of the First World War

The Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War has lead to an increased interest in the lives of soldiers and others in WWI. However, it can be difficult for novice researchers to find their way through military jargon and structures and to get a sense of what life in the Great War was like for a particular person. Sometimes rich personal accounts have survived, but in many cases, there's only a name, and perhaps a service number or regiment or battalion name.

There are lots of personal accounts of the war online, whether on large sites like Europeana 1914-1918, national libraries and archives, or individual diaries transcribed and posted online through small local projects.

This project aims to bridge the gap and provide context for an individual's experience of WWI by linking to narratives written by people in the same situation. At the end of this project, someone who wants to research a soldier in WWI but doesn't know a thing about how armies were structured should be able to find a personal account from someone who was in the same place at the same time that gives a sense of their lived experiences of WWI.

The challenge is to link these personal accounts by creating links from the individual who wrote them to their military unit. To populate this dataset, personal accounts (diaries, letters, etc) need to be linked to specific soldiers, who can then be linked to specific units. Linking published accounts such as official unit histories to pages would also help. Once these personal accounts are linked to particular military units, they can be linked to higher units - from the battalion, ship or regiment to brigade, corps, etc - and to particular places, activities, events and campaigns.

In this phase of the project, the aim is find a personal narrative - a diary, letters, memoirs or images - for each military unit in the British Army. Can you help?

Further background on this project

This project came out of a research proposal and subsequent visiting Transnational Research Fellowship at Trinity College Dublin with the CENDARI project.

CENDARI is a 'research infrastructure project aimed at integrating digital archives for the medieval and World War One eras' which 'aims to leverage innovative technologies to provide historians with the tools by which to contextualise, customise and share their research'.

Various updates about the scope and goals of the project have been collected at CENDARI Visiting Research Fellowship: 'Bridging collections with a participatory Commons: a pilot with World War One archives'.