Primary Sources: The First World War

The First World War is a recently acquired digital archive made up of three collections of mainly primary but some secondary sources. A large proportion of the materials are in English, but German, French, Italian, and Spanish materials are also included. The materials were selected from libraries, archives, museums and other collections in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, and a few additional countries.

The Personal Experiences collection draws on diaries, trench journals, posters, art, sheet music, photographs, and other documents to provide insight on the lives of soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Subjects addressed include trench warfare and the conditions in the trenches, battles, health and medicine, camaraderie and friendship, food and supplies, and many others.

Propaganda and Recruitment showcases the methods exploited in wartime propaganda and their paths of dissemination. Examples include aerial leaflets, atrocity propaganda, international posters, postcards, cartoons and political pamphlets. “Themes of recruitment, training and morale are also examined through items such as tribunal case files, Kitchener’s papers, recruitment listings, training manuals and minute books of both parliamentary and local recruiting committees.” [source]

Visual Perspectives and Narratives “features a diverse range of unique material from the holdings of Imperial War Museums. Through various visual and documentary resources, such as official and personal photographs, manuscripts, rare printed material, artwork, objects and film, this profound collection presents international perspectives on the conflict, the Home Front, the role of women during the war, and much more.” [source]

The collections can be searched separately or concurrently and searches can be limited by type of material, language, source, and theater of war. The advanced search provides the most flexibilty.

Additional features include interactive maps and a maps gallery, visual galleries and a 360 object gallery, secondary source essays, and reference tools such as a glossary and chronology.