With this being the 11th month of the 11th day, it is important to note the work being done to preserve material related to the thousands of ancestors who were involved during the ‘Great War’ what would eventually be called World War One. There is a special project in Europe for the last couple of years to collect memorabilia and stories from the period of the war, approximately 1914 to 1918. Some of the items saved are letters, postcards, photographs along with personal and family stories from Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. Several major universities and libraries are making available their collections and encouraging individuals to share what artifacts they owe.
This online site Europeana 1914-1918 has a riveting selection of items in digital format, so it can be shared around the globe. There is a search box at the top of the page in which a surnames, a hometown, a military regiment could be typed to see if anything relating to the key word is already in the collections. The good thing is that new items are being added all the time.
The variety of the collections is amazing. There are images with captions and information attached, letters, postcards, journals, along with many personal stories done in PDF format to read, even films / videos / audio recordings where interviews were done and recorded. The artifacts can be some of the most interesting items. There are some 125 items (photos, and stories) just under the key word of diary. Each thumbnail image of PDF file can be clicked for the full story.
The collections represent soldiers, civilians, military support units (like the Red Cross) and families who experienced the war first hand. A reminder, since the United Kingdom was in the war, they had soldiers from Australia, South Africa, India, Canada and New Zealand also on the battlefields. So you would not limit ancestors to those who only lived in Europe.
A great addition to the site is if there is letter or information written in another language, there is a drop down site at the top of the page where you can Translate the information into another language. Also when items were donated by family members or even family friends, there is a link to the person who donated the artifact. It could prove to a be a way to locate an unknown cousin or two.
If you are not finding anything using a surname name, us e a maiden name of a relative, their hometown, even an occupation. Just the various stories and images relating to nurses in the collections is an education. If you had an ancestor who was a nurse it can provide some real insight of what type of conditions they experienced.
There may be family treasures relating to World War One you would be interested in placing on the site. The tab at the top titled ‘Add’ is the location with full instructions for adding a photo or story.
Since this site is from European collections there is little of material representing the American forces.
Remember – Nov. 11, 1918 ended that Great War with the cease fire at the 11th hour, the 11th day of the 11th month. In the United States that became Armistice Day and changed decades later to Veteran’s Day.
Photo: Photograph of William Hunt (in the center with dark hair and dark clothes of the Manchester Regiment of England) and other Prisoners of War in Hamelin, Germany.< Return To Blog