State Library of New South Wales

The State Library of New South Wales holds a rich collection of resources on the Great War including diaries, letters, maps, photographs, artworks, posters and newspapers.

Browse and search this selection of content, explore our stories and join us in commemorating the Australian experiences of the War.

View the Collection

Diarists and Letter Writers

The personal diaries and letters documenting Australian’s experiences of the Great War are one of the great strengths of the Library’s World War I collections. 

Many of these were acquired soon after the war ended. They capture the  authentic and personal observations of those who served  - before their memories were diluted by the passing of time and unreliable reminiscences.
Browse over 1200 volumes of diaries and letters written by 550 diarists including soldiers, nurses, journalists and artists.

  • During the period of this diary, MacDonald and his regiment were transported from Egypt (Alexandria) to France (Marseilles) and thence by train the Somme (Thiennes). MacDonald’s entries are brief. He does express some excitement on arriving in France – beautiful girls, pretty scenery and amazing infrastructure. He was promoted to Acting Sergeant on 20 April.

Themes

Explore our collections through a series of themes which reflect Australia’s experience of war including Daily Life at the Front, Love and Friendship, Children in War and Entertainment for the troops.

Each theme contains a selection of stories, image galleries and articles. Over time we will add new stories and galleries as our collections are digitised, transcribed and interpreted.

Stories

What was it really like for men and women on the front line? Our collections tell us through the personal accounts found in diaries, maps that document the progress of the war, newspapers and ephemera that reflected what was happening on the home front, and life captured through the photographer’s lens.

Newly commissioned articles by researchers, historians and curators provide insights into Australia's experience of the Great War.

Featured
Arthur John Moore Burrowes letters and postcards to his family, 26 January 1918-15 September 1919
'If anything else is added the post card will be destroyed'

Keeping the secrets of battles fought, won and lost, makes for very clinical correspondence from ‘over there’. Reading between the lines about the realities of life in the armed forces must have been very difficult for the recipients of such scant morsels of information. It isn’t exactly a wordy message but I am sure it would have been happily received back home with the first line kept intact. See postcard.

world.war.I@sl.nsw.gov.au
Ph: +61 2 9273 1414
Fax: +61 2 9273 1255

State Library of NSW
Macquarie Street,
Sydney NSW 2000,
Australia

Media Enquiries
media.library@sl.nsw.gov.au