User notes for the records of C.E.W. Bean

The Memorial has digitised 286 volumes of diaries, notebooks, and folders kept by Charles Edward Woodrow Bean during the war and used by him to write the official history of the First World War.

Integrity of the images

These records are a faithful reproduction of the original records. The contents have not been altered by the Memorial in the digitisation process. Each image has been quality checked against the original.

Personal records are not always presented in a logical or chronological order. The challenge for the Australian War Memorial was to make the digital images of the diaries accessible and usable in the online environment without interfering with the integrity of the original documents. The Memorial has made some decisions about the arrangement of the documents in their digital version so as to make them easier to use online. These decisions are described below.

Upside down pages

For scanning, the diaries were opened as they would be when held in your hand. This means that each scan shows two pages, but Bean wrote some pages upside down. The diary pages are displayed online in the same sequence as they are in the original records, and also in the same orientation. However, where both pages are upside down, the Memorial has rotated the whole image. Where only one page is upside down, you may want to rotate the image. For information about how to rotate images in a pdf file, see the Adobe website. If all else fails, you can always print the page!

Page numbers

All the diaries have page numbers. These numbers were added at a later date and are an indicator of the way the diaries were intended to be read. The page numbers can seem erratic. For example, in one diary they might seem to jump from 11 to 29, but the pages numbered 12 to 28 may be found in the middle or the back of the book. Pages that are numbered but blank have not been scanned; other pages were torn out before the volumes reached the Memorial. No pages with writing on them have been left out of the online version.

Handwriting and shorthand

Charles Bean used his own style of shorthand and abbreviations. Sometimes he has transcribed his shorthand, made alterations, or added annotations at a later date.
The diaries include handwritten notes produced in the field, and can be difficult to read. Bean writes of this in his diary of April 1915.

If I am plugged and anyone gets this diary they’ll probably think that I was either tight or very unnerved when I wrote it. The fact was it was written by night when no candles were to be had & I had to do as best I could in the moonlight. On some nights the sky was clear and one cd see fairly well. On others I simply had to place the lines by guess work & many of them are written over one another. I have been thro’ the worst of the notes since with pen.
AWM38, 3DRL 606/4, diary entry April 1915 p.18

Attachments: letters, maps, and newspaper cuttings

Charles Bean attached letters, maps, and newspaper cuttings to the pages of his diaries. These have been scanned in their folded position, and then opened and scanned again. Any visible text beneath the attached pages has also been scanned if possible.