In the lead-up to the centenary of the start of the First World War, there has been a proliferation of commemoration plans and projects including online record releases, digitising projects, new books, articles and websites produced by professionals and dedicated individuals from around the world. This is an exciting time for family historians who will benefit from this vast range of commemorative projects now and into the future.
The State Library of Victoria has an exceptional collection of resources relating to World War I including: war diaries, letters, published regimental and unit histories, campaign histories and contemporary newspapers for Australia and overseas. References to our many holdings can be found by searching our online catalogue. The main subject heading to search on for World War I is: World War, 1914-1918.
We also provide access to a range of major electronic databases that contain information about military personnel including Ancestry Library Edition, FindMyPast (Australia, UK, Ireland) and The National Archives (UK) Discovery database. Discovery is also available free of charge from home to current Victorian residents who register as a Library user.
The Library also holds a range of publications that inform the reader about how to research the numerous topics relating to military research.
The State Library has published online family history research guides on a range of topics including two with a military theme. They are: Researching Australians in World War 1 and Australian colonial forces and family history.
The Researching Australians in World War 1 guide is a good starting point for getting an idea of some of the available resources within and outside the Library. This guide provides research tips and suggested resources for tracing information about individual soldiers who served during World War I. It is primarily concerned with Australian soldiers, but there is also British information. Information is located under the following headings: Soldiers, Personal stories, Images, Medals, Regiments, Colour patches, Battles, Official histories, Casualties, Cemetery records, Nurses and Women’s war work.
The Australian colonial forces and family history guide introduces the historical context, select records and resources, the main record depositories and some basic research strategies associated with this research. Resources include other published guides and websites for relevant government agencies as well as websites published by individuals and interest groups. These websites provide in-depth information about available records and services provided by each agency. Many sources list names of military personnel. The guide concentrates on members of the British Imperial Forces that came to and served in Australia between 1788 and 1870 as well as those who served in colonial volunteer forces and militia raised by colonial governments. The guide also provides information about Australian military personnel who served in military conflicts overseas, such as the New Zealand Maori Wars (1845-1864), the Sudan War (1885) and the Boer War (1899-1902).
Now is a good time to research your family connections to World War I or other military campaigns and to share your stories.
Written by Grant Hamston, Librarian, Genealogy Team
The Ballarat Volunteer Regiment – “Winning skirmishing team” 1874, H98.105/3516