First World War letters and diaries available online

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In the centenary year of the First World War, the Australian War Memorial today launched one of its major commemorative projects which will see rare, historic records containing eyewitness accounts made available free and online to the general public.

Known as Anzac Connections, the project involves the progressive digitisation of thousands of pages of personal accounts, letters and diaries from Australians who served in the First World War.

The project also makes available improved linkage and search options to bring together all the Memorial’s digital collections including photographs, film, artworks and objects.

The Assistant Director of the Memorial's National Collections, Tim Sullivan, said Anzac Connections delivered treasures from the Memorial’s archive including eye witness accounts of the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915; and the battles of Fromelles and Pozières.

“Some of these rare and historic records are being made publicly available for the first time, including letters from John Simpson Kirkpatrick (of Simpson and his donkey fame) and Captain Frederick Tubb VC’s diaries, as well as Australian nurses and the personal records of ordinary people swept up in the events of the First World War,” Tim Sullivan said.

“People were caught up in the excitement after war was declared. Many thought the war would be over by Christmas, and enlisted from a sense of adventure and opportunity to see the world. Anzac Connections reveals the changing attitudes and hardships experienced by Australians during the First World War.”

The project aims to draw together information and sources related to individuals, and to present that information in one place. Over the next four years, the Memorial will progressively digitise a broad selection of the private records of servicemen and women from the First World War.

The digitised collections present the voices of those who served in their own words and provide all Australians with the chance to read original accounts of the experience of war.

“Anzac Connections offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of our very first Anzacs throughout the First World War. The words of these brave men and women help us form a deeper understanding of what it means to be an Australian,” said Tim Sullivan.

The digitised records can be accessed through /people/biographies/

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