I want you for the Navy poster. Image in public domain via Wikipedia Commons

Partnership, open and legacy were key words at the first world war digital centenary planning meeting held at the Imperial War Museum on March 27 when representatives from the UK’s leading academic, cultural and heritage organisations met to share plans for the centenary, explore ways of working together and discuss JISC’s white paper for the first world war digital commemoration planning meeting.

Notes from the meeting

There are summary notes of the discussionwhich provide an overview of the main topic covered, key points and next steps. There are also full notes of the meeting which go into much more depth. The notes are cross-referenced.


Stuart Lee’s presentation

Patricia Methven’s presentation

Lorna Hughes’s presentation

Kate Lindsay’s presentation

Jon Purday’s presentation

Gina Koutsika and Luke Smith’s presentation

Sarah Fahmy’s presentation

Contribute. Collaborate. Commemorate. @Arras95 Time Machine. 9th April 2012. bit.ly/H9JwhT #arras95 #ukoer

Between the 9th April and 16th May 2012 an experiment in social media will take place. We will tweet the events of the Battle of Arras in realtime, from the perspective of a neutral reporter on the field. What makes this Twitter event different from other realtime tweeting initiatives (and there are some great ones out there!) is that @Arras95 will engage online communites, crowdsourcing facts about Arras and the individuals who played a part, asking for reappraisals and additions to the action as it happens.

Why are we doing this?

@Arras95 will surface a key, but lesser taught, turning point of the War, providing an innovative opportunity for others to learn about and engage in discussion about this historical event. @Arras95 will increase the visibility of open content around this one focal point, providing teachers, students and the general public with a wealth of resources for free use and adaption.

After the event a searchable archive of the Twitter conversation will be made available, open content will be added to the Resource Library of our web site, and the event maps and geotags will be analysed and refined to produce OpenLayers of data for overlay on 2D maps and 3D Earth browsers.

How to get involved

  • Follow @Arras95 on Twitter
  • Tell your followers to follow @Arras95 on Twitter – blog about us, talk about us, facebook us.
  • Engage with us. RT the latest news from the Arras battlefield. If you think further information could be added or another perspective contributed, add your own tweets to the conversation by using the #arras95 hashtag. We welcome tweets in languages other than English and information provided about any of the troops involved in the Battle. If you would like to schedule your own live tweets from Arras, read our Scheduled and Geo-located Tweeting Guide [add link].
  • If you are able to add location data to your tweets do so. We’ll be placing tweets with location data on a Google map.
  • Can you enrich the community’s experience by linking to relevant photographs, primary source documents or articles to the event? All material that we surface must be open licenced and we will check the license before quoting you. Open licences we will accept include: Creative Commons Attribution Creative Commons Attribution* Non-CommercialCreative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike*Open Government LicenceOpen Parliament Licence; other Open Content Licences; and items in the public domain with no copyright restrictions. Examples of where to find such material includeWikipediaWikipedia CommonsThe Commons on Flickr.
  • If you have photographs and documents in your own private collection and can digitise these with a scanner or digital camera you can make them available online under an open-licence. Here are some of the commonest ways:
    – Upload your images to Wikimedia Commons, the media repository for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects
    – Upload your images to a photosharing site like Flickr, specifying one of the above creative commons licences.
    – Upload your images to your own website, with a clear and unambiguous statement that they are under a specified open licence.
  • Add information and links to open content on our Google Event Map. See this short video tutorial on how to do this .

“Attribution” means that the copyright holder must be given a credit.
“ShareAlike” means that if someone uses your picture, anything made with it must have the same licence.

Vote for the Great War Community Collections

Great War Collections (which now includes the JISC-funded Great War Archive and Europeana 1914-1918) has been entered for the EngageU Award, a European Competition for Best Innovations in University Outreach and Public Engagement.

The public can vote for this project until 19 April.

The Great War Collections started as a JISC-funded project, the Great War Archive, from the University of Oxford, back in 2008, as the sister site to the First World War Poetry Digital Archive.

Since then it expanded to the rest of Europe and has engaged over 2100 members of the public in the UK, Germany and Luxembourg to capture over 30,000 images of personally-owned memorabilia from the First World War.

Crowds flock to ‘biggest ever’ WW1 roadshow

WW1 memorabilia from Prisoner of War sketches, to locks of hair and photographs of families and soldiers were revealed at the most successful roadshow event ever to get people to share their memories on the web.

More than 200 people poured into the Museum of Lancashire in Preston at the weekend to have their loved-one’s precious items digitised for the virtual archive www.europeana1914-1918.eu/

Queuing began an hour before doors opened on Saturday (10.03.12) – and the crowds continued to stream in until they closed nine hours later. Many people had travelled from as far afield as Leeds, Manchester, Birkenhead, Liverpool and Warrington just to be there.

More than 2,300 images were taken of a wide variety of items, including: letters, diaries, medals, birth and death certificates, nurses’ autograph books, cartoons, pictures and trench art – everyday objects made from anything the soldiers found, such as shell casings and spent ammunition.

The Preston roadshow is the latest in a series that is being rolled-out across 10 countries in Europe this year to create a unique pan-European account of WW1 that is available to everyone.

Europeana 1914-1918 brings together a partnership of libraries, museums, academic and cultural institutions, which in the UK includes the British Library, Oxford University, JISC and Lancashire County Council.

Jon Purday, senior communications advisor at Europeana1914-1918, the organisation behind the project, said: “The Preston event has been our best so far – we’ve never had so many people through the doors. It just goes to show the extraordinary level of interest in WW1 and how much importance people attach to having their personal histories recorded in time for the 100th anniversary of the war.

“We had 111 contributors arriving with family and friends, so we had about 220 people eager to share their loved-ones’ memories.”

Thomas Langdale, who brought in a German school exercise book filled with diary entries and sketches by Prisoners of War from England, Australia, Canada and France, said: “Without events like these, we will lose the thoughts and feelings of our ancestors who went through so much.

“Now those memories can be saved for future generations, which will hopefully help us understand the sacrifices that were made in the war,” added Mr Langdale, of Darwen, near Blackburn.

Alun Edwards, project manager at Oxford University, which has been involved in running 17 roadshows across Europe, said: “These events are a fantastic way of engaging people with history through the internet.

“At Preston we had one woman who brought in a notebook relating to her grandfather, which included a lock of hair from her mother as a little girl in 1918. Her grandfather had kept this link to his daughter during his time away from the family. While this was not a unique story from the war, the artefact had been saved and it was memorable to those of us who were given the opportunity to photograph it.”

Stephen Bull, curator of military history and archaeology at the Museum of Lancashire, said: “Many of the items people brought with them have never been seen outside the family until now – yet they add valuable new information about what life was like for soldiers in the trenches and for those left behind on the home front.”

The WW1 roadshow, which began in Germany last year, has already visited Luxembourg and is en route to Dublin on March 21, followed by Slovenia, Denmark and Banbury, Oxfordshire, in the coming weeks.

Anyone who can’t make the events, but would like to add their WW1 memories, can do so by uploading their images via the website www.europeana1914-1918.eu

World War One 1914 -1918: Digitising pictures, letters and memories for the 100th anniversary

Do you have a box hidden deep in the attic or under the bed that holds your great grandfather’s diaries? Maybe a letter from the front line? Or a photo taken at the time? Is there a special story behind it?

If so, we want to see it.

We are building the first ever online European archive of private memorabilia from WW1 in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war – and we need your help to do this.

We are urging people to root out memorabilia from 1914-1918 to bring along to the Museum of Lancashire in Preston, on Saturday 10 March – one of the first in a series of WW1 Family History Roadshows that will be visiting Luxembourg, Ireland, Slovenia, Denmark and Belgium during 2012.

We anticipate that it will be the first time many of these items have ever been seen outside the family – creating a new and exciting source of material for historians, schools, genealogists and cultural organisations in their interpretation of how the war affected the lives or ordinary people.

We want families to tell us about their keepsakes, who they belonged to and why they are so important to them – and we will save those memories in our archive www.europeana1914-1918.eu/

Europeana 1914-1918 brings together a partnership of libraries, museums, academic and cultural institutions, which in the UK includes the British Library, Oxford University, JISC, and Lancashire County Council.

On roadshow days, historians and experts will be available to talk about the significance of the finds – while our staff will professionally digitise and upload them to the website.

And if you are unable to attend the event, you can scan or digitally photograph your own material and upload it on the website www.europeana1914-1918.eu/.

As the centenary approaches, it is vital we preserve these precious documents for future generations. Digitisation saves them from being lost or thrown away – and it allows the information to be incorporated into apps for smartphones and tablets that will bring history alive for people in contemporary ways.

In 2011, more than 25,000 digital images were recorded from nine family history roadshows held in major cities across Germany. These included: unpublished diaries, hand-drawn maps, portraits, sketches and photographs recording life under fire and on the home front.

Stephen Bull, curator of military history and archaeology at the Museum of Lancashire, said: “As the centenary of 1914 and WW1 approaches, it is more important than ever that we save these items. It tells us what life was like for the ordinary people of Lancashire – the soldiers, their families and the workers back home who kept the country going.

“We are hoping people will bring in anything from that period, be it a family photo, a love letter, some sort of document or object. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know the background behind it, once it’s online then it’s likely people will be able to fill in some of those gaps.

“And while experts scan these precious items, visitors can use the opportunity to enjoy our museum with its replica WW1 trench, meet costumed re-enactors and experience at first hand some of the sights, smells and sounds from a conflict that affected the everyday lives of virtually all Europeans.”

Jill Cousins, Europeana’s executive director, said: “Memorabilia and stories are kept by families for a while, but after a century their significance starts to fade.

“That’s why our online archive, which is collecting material from across Europe in a series of roadshows, is so important.

“The Preston event will give people the opportunity to share their memories, photos and diaries with future generations, while learning about the sacrifices their ancestors made.”

Jamie Andrews, head of English and Drama at the British Library, said he was delighted to be involved in the project.

“We’re already set to digitise more than 400,000 items from national libraries in eight European countries with our Europeana Collections 1914-1918 project,” he said.

“Add to this unseen material from people’s own homes and we will have a truly rounded picture of the impact of the war on families from all the different communities involved.”

Stuart Lee, director of Computing Systems and Services at Oxford University, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this project. We pioneered this idea of collecting the memories of the community online – and concentrating on an individual town like Preston will give us a wonderful opportunity to assess the lasting legacy of the war in the regions.”

The roadshows are funded in the UK by JISC, which promotes IT innovation in higher education.

Stuart Dempster, programme director at JISC, said: “These roadshows will give universities, colleges, museums, galleries, archives, libraries, the creative industries and schools the opportunity to work together with the public to create new and exciting ways of considering the historical, political and social legacy of the war through innovative digital technologies.”

Notes to Editors:

For further information, sample images and to confirm attendance at the press conference, please contact: Jackie Storer on             07710 070270       or jackie.storer@bl.uk

Europeana is Europe’s digital library, archive and museum. It launched its 1914-1918 family history project in Germany in 2011 to collect memorabilia and family stories from combat and the home front. Nine family history roadshows were held in major cities across the country and so far we’ve recorded 25,000 digital images. These include: unpublished diaries, hand-drawn maps, portraits, sketches and photographs recording life under fire and on the home front. The project is being rolled out across 10 countries in Europe to create a unique pan-European virtual archive of WW1.


Oxford University began the initiative when it asked people across Britain to bring family letters, photographs and keepsakes from the war to be digitised in 2006. The success of the idea – which became the Great War Archive – encouraged Europeana 1914-1918 to roll out the scheme in Germany in 2011, and across Luxembourg, the UK, Ireland, Slovenia, Denmark and Belgium in 2012. Oxford University continues to lead the project in terms of digital, training and cataloguing expertise during roadshow events across Europe.


The British Library is a lead player in Europeana Collections 1914-1918 – a three year project to digitise more than 400,000 items from national libraries in eight countries across Europe that found themselves on different sides of the conflict. The Library is also sending curatorial and cataloguing staff to the roadshow event to work alongside Oxford University colleagues in Preston.


The Museum of Lancashire, which boasts a WW1 trench and a treasure trove of military history memorabilia, was reopened in November, last year, following a £1.7m refurbishment. In addition to a new entrance, cash from Lancashire County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund paid for eight new interactive collections covering Roman times, the Iron Age and Edwardian England. Admission is free for the first 12 months.


JISC inspires UK colleges and universities in the innovative use of digital technologies, helping to maintain the UK’s position as a global leader in education. JISC’s work for the commemoration is focused on giving students, teachers and researchers in higher and further education access to a wealth of unique and authoritative digital resources that can be used and re-used to inspire research and teaching. This event will potentially ‘unlock’ resources of huge educational potential which have previously been kept in the nation’s attics and drawers, so that we can increase our insight around the war and its legacy. http://jiscww1.jiscinvolve.org/wp/

JISC/ KCL review of the teaching of the First World War

As part of the JISC World War One Discovery Programme, Kings College London invites those involved in the teaching of the First World War in UK universities, colleges and schools to participate in a preliminary review of First World War teaching and digital content useage. The project will survey educational use, requirements and available digital and hard copy resources which underpin the programme’s wider aim of aggregating and delivering First World War content to support education and research as the war’s centenaries approach.

Kings College London will hold no identifying personal data about you unless you indicate your willingness to be contacted at the end of the survey. In this case your email address will be requested by the survey tool and handled in accordance with the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. Confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained and it will not be possible to identify you from any material published in the project’s final report.

If you have any questions, please contact lynelle.howson@kcl.ac.uk who will be happy to answer them.

Submission of this survey implies consent to participate and your agreement to the use of summarised results and anonymised quotes in publications.

Thank you for your participation. Let’s begin!


World War One Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings

JISC is delighted to announce that the University of Oxford has won the grant for the ‘JISC World War One (WW1) Open Educational Resources (OER)’ project. This initiative will collect and release digital learning content as OER in an easily accessible online platform to provide an academic-driven corpus of reusable scholarly resources that seek to readdress World War One and its cultural, historical, and political context.

The project will surface the highest quality OER through a series of expert commentaries created by some of the most notable academics in the field of World War One studies and related disciplines. Alongside these thematic directory areas of additional expert-curated OER and dynamic libraries of relevant resources from the wider OER community will be made available. The project will innovatively revisualise a series of OER to showcase the full potential of using open material to seed academic debate.

Due to the breadth of academic engagement with the project, it is hoped that some of the core motivating factors for JISC in undertaking this work will start to be addressed e.g. encouraging new academic interpretations around WW1 to challenge received notions of historical fact and build on new areas of research and study. It will also provide new insights into the global nature of the conflict and provide new ways by which students, learners and researchers can engage with and draw out fresh perspectives in one of the most taught and researched periods of European and global history.

The project is an exciting collaboration between the teams at the University of Oxford responsible for the First World War Poetry Digital Archive and the Great War Archive (funded under the JISC Content and Digitisation Programme), and the Oxford Open Spires, Triton, and Great Writers projects (funded under the HEA/JISC Open Educational Resources Programme Phases 1, 2 and 3). This project team will therefore bring together a wealth of experience from pedagological and content perspectives to create a unique and timely open educational resource that brings the people, events and places of WW1 back into sharp relief for the benefit of education and research.

As with the JISC WW1 Discovery programme, this project shall be underpinned by the JISC ‘Statement of Intent’

For more information, please contact Katharine Lindsay at katharine.lindsay@oucs.ox.ac.uk

A project blog shall also follow shortly

Guide to WW1 collections in the UK

The legacy of First World War in terms of social, economic and political global change cannot be overstated; it changed the individual’s view of society and their place within it with far-reaching effects into their future and our past. In the words of H.G. Wells: ‘This is the end and the beginning of an age’.

To mark this event is therefore a key landmark for custodians of heritage and educators alike. The commemoration provides the opportunity for museums, galleries, archives, libraries, the creative industries, universities, colleges and schools to work together to provide a user experience made possible through innovative digital technologies that is as personal, rich and vivid as it is focused; an experience that offers the user the ability to contextualise their own understanding and customise resources in line with their own learning and research priorities.
However, in order to effectively scope how public service organisations could achieve this aim, it was first necessary to understand what content was available, under what conditions and where it was located. In short,  a full audit of collections and assets pertaining to the First World War needed to be undertaken and shared between these organisations.
Therefore, in late 2011, the Imperial War Museums, was commissioned, funded and supported by JISC and the Wellcome Trust, to produce the attached guide to First World War collections held across the UK. The guide provides information on which archive, museum or library across the UK has material relevant to the First World War.
This is the first iteration of a growing body of research on this topic and is not comprehensive. Further research on First World War content and collections available to education in analogue and digital form will be undertaken as part of the JISC WW1 Discovery programme by King’s College London and will be openly released in March 2012.

WW1 Discovery: Content prioritisation- Winning project

 JISC is delighted to announce that King’s College London has been awarded the WW1    Discovery: Content Prioritisation’ contract. This work will undertake essential primary research  that will guide and underpin the wider JISC WW1 Discovery programme which aims to aggregate and deliver WW1 content by building an aggregation, API and discovery layer so that related material can be discovered more easily by educators and researchers.

2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War One and the beginning of a succession of commemorations of landmark campaigns and battles alongside consideration of one of the biggest social upheavals the world has experienced in living memory. The ‘war to end all wars’ to this day remains the most widely covered in teaching in further and higher education and is a huge focus for research across disciplines but despite the growth of exciting multidisciplinary approaches to its study, little centralised information exists on what aspects of the war are being taught or the key research questions in development. Additionally, whilst a vast plethora of collections on World War One reside in digital and analogue forms in a range of museums, galleries, archives, libraries etc across the UK, much remains underexploited by education and research due to its sheer volume and its presentation collection ‘silos’. 

 Due to this breadth and depth of content available around WW1, it is necessary to prioritise the potential content that could or should  be included in an initial aggregation of material and which will, ideally, act as a foundation for future work in this area. This prioritisation will be based on an in-depth knowledge on the WW1 collections available, i.e. the types of content (e.g. film, images documents etc) they cover as well as their availability vis a vis licensing and re-use terms, but will also, most crucially, meet and address an identified academic or educational need and/or priority. Once we understand these issues, we are much better  placed to be able to not only provide a basis for the JISC WW1 Discovery aggregation, but also to provide essential information to those scoping WW1 projects throughout the public sector. 

 This is a potentially huge piece of work and expectations will be managed in terms of how much will be achieved by the completion date of 20 March 2012. However, to give the project team the best chance of success, it is important that as wide a range of views as possible are gathered. To this end, KCL will be conducting desk research and telephone interviews as necessary on what is actually taught in HE, compiling targeted surveys of resources available and their use and seeking  input of academic and information professionals through focus groups, lists and invitations to blog/Twitter. 

 If you are able to input into any of this ongoing research, please contact patricia.methven@kcl.ac.uk or geoffrey.browell@kcl.ac.uk

Remembrance Day: an opportunity to revisit our cultural heritage around WW1

This item is from The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, University of Oxford (www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit); © The Imperial War Museum.

The legacy of World War One in terms of social, economic and political global change cannot be overstated; it changed the individual’s view of society and their place within it with far-reaching effects into their future and our past. In the words of H.G. Wells: ‘This is the end and the beginning of an age’

To mark this event in international history is therefore a key priority for custodians of heritage and educators alike.

JISC has already made considerable efforts to preserve online the memories and writings of those active during the First World War.  The popular Great War Poetry Archive was funded by JISC to digitise precious documents relating to the poetry of the Great War – including Wilfred Owen’s original notes for the well known poem Dulce et Decorum Est. It also includes podcasts with eminent historians and veterans including the writer and broadcaster Ian Hislop talking about his grandfather’s experience in action and why he is so ‘obsessed’ with the First World War.  The Serving Soldier collection might also interest you as a way of finding out about the lives of soldiers from 1899 to 1918, a period which spans the Second Boer War, Younghusband Expedition and World War One.

However, as the centennary of the First World War looms in 2014, the JISC activities as outlined in this blog offer an opportunity to technologically assess and re-assess the war’s academic importance, its legacy and it lessons for us all so that rememberance and understanding remains as personal and real for future generations.