In today’s modern world, students, teachers, families, communities, and cultural organisations have access to a wealth of research opportunities at the touch of a button.
If you’re interested in reconnecting with your past, or discovering more about Victoria’s vast World War I history, try these research tools.
The Victorian Government has made it possible to search the embarkation records of those who left Victoria during 1914 on the First Convoy. Use this tool to view the embarkation record for these individuals who left on one of 17 troopships during September and October 1914. These records link through to the National Archives of Australia Discovering Anzacs site, where further information including Enlistment Records can be found. Use the online search tool or alternatively, researchers can download the entire Embarkation Roll in Excel format. Visit the online research tool.
The National Archives of Australia is the custodian of the individual service records of every man and woman to have served Australia in war.
Via Discovering Anzacs you can search for service records by name or area.
This site will display information on service personnel including Unit, Brigade and Rank plus a scanned copy of the original Enlistment Record.
The Australian War Memorial’s collection is enormous, extensive and remarkably diverse. Its archival collections are divided into two major parts: official records and private records.
The private records collection contains the letter, diaries, photographs and other artefacts of thousands of individual Australian servicemen and women. When researching a particular individual it is always worthwhile to put that person’s name in the AWM’s collection database.
The official records collection is enormous but more predictable for the searcher. The AWM houses the nominal roll (the name and date of every person who enlisted) the embarkation roll (the name and date of every person who left Australia) and the Honour Roll (the name and date of every person who died on active service). These are the starting points for research into any individual who served Australia.
The AWM has also digitised the Official History of Australia in the First World War. Researchers can therefore read the 11 volume official history and three volume medical history online.
Victoria’s magnificent Library has given the online researcher, particularly the online Victorian researcher, the greatest possible assistance to help understand the impact of the First World War on the local community.
Some years ago the Library digitised nearly every Victorian suburban and country newspaper for 1914-1918. Researchers who wonder what the people of their hometown, say Euroa, or their suburb, say, Williamstown, were doing during the war have the answer at their fingertips.
The newspapers can be accessed through the State Library’s online catalogue. To do this you must know the individual title you are seeking.
The best way to access the complete listing of these digitised newspapers is to use the National Library of Australia’s Trove search engine. Open Trove, click on the heading ‘digitised newspapers and more’, click on ‘Vic’ and the title of every Victorian newspaper digitised is presented to you. From the Advertiser (Footscray) to the Yea Chronicle there are currently 204 Victorian newspapers from the war years available online.
To mark the Anzac Centenary, the Library will add a dedicated WWI display in its Changing Face of Victoria exhibition, which is permanently housed in the Dome Galleries. This special display will contain significant items from the State Collection, such as letters from the front, personal photos and soldiers’ memorabilia. The display will be refreshed annually between 2014 and 2018.
The State Library is also supporting the research and publication of a book written by prominent historian Michael McKernan that explores the lives of Victorians both on the home front and the battlefield. Victoria at war will be published by NewSouth Publishing in association with the Library in August 2014.
Visit these State Library websites for more information on WWI
The NLA created an online virtual exhibition called ‘Despatches from Gallipoli’. It covers the campaign through the eyes of four war correspondents and is extremely rich with the writings and observations of respected journalists.
The commemorative unit within the Department produces a range of materials relating to the First World War for use in schools and elsewhere.
There is a very helpful and full website on the Gallipoli campaign which will lead researchers in valuable directions.
The Department has also established a similar site which deals with Australians on the Western Front. This site is currently being upgraded and an even better version will be available from February 2014 onwards.
It might also be important to visit a new Commonwealth Government online education and community awareness portal which will have links to all State Government sites to give a full of centenary activities. It is available now but will be developed further.
The Department commissioned the Australians at War Film Archive which, in over 2,000 filmed interviews, tells a rich tale of the experiences of Australians from the First World War to Afghanistan.
The complete interviews occupy 12,000 hours of playing time but they are all easily searchable.
Victorian Collections is a central portal to the cultural treasures held by museums and galleries distributed across the State of Victoria.
Search by keyword such as ANZAC or World War I and the search results will be displayed including an image, if available, description and location of the items.
If the person you are researching was killed in action or died of wounds he or she may be buried under his or her name in a CWGC cemetery. (So many soldiers from all the nations are unknown because of the awful nature of the artillery and the confusion of the battlefield).
If the person is in a CWGC cemetery you can find out where the person is buried and you can see photographs of the cemetery. This can add richness to your search.
As part of the centenary commemoration of World War One, Public Record Office Victoria are working to make its records about the Victorian Soldier Settlementschemes easier to find and to connect with other records about the war.