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.
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.
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.
Many of the Library’s World War I collections have been digitised and are available to students, family historians, and academic and digital humanities researchers through the Library catalogues or as datasets. The Library encourages the use of these collections and invites you to get involved – transcribe a diary or download a dataset. Virtually all of this material can be downloaded for research or study.
Sisters Lines after a Storm
1915–16: AW Savage
2011: Cheryl Ward and Bernard de Broglio
AW Savage, Photographs of the Third Australian General Hospital at Lemnos, Egypt & Brighton (Eng.)