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.

Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt
Saturday, November 1, 2014 - 9:00am
Portraits of War: The Crown Studios Project
Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 9:00am
Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War I
Saturday, July 5, 2014 - 9:00am
Diaries

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.


Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War One
Free exhibition in the Galleries 
5 July -
21 September 2014
They were teachers, farmers, clerks and architects. Some were still at school. They came from cities, regional towns and the bush. From August 1914 Australian men and women kissed their loved ones goodbye and enlisted in a war they knew little about. With pride, they went to war with just a few months of battle training under their belts. Some would not return home; those who did were changed forever. view



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.  

They began arriving in France in late spring 1916. The lush green beauty of the country impressed the Australians who had spent months in the desert heat of Egypt and on the dry steep cliffs of Gallipoli. Allan Allsop from Sydney wrote that the ‘grandeur of Southern France at this time of the year is truly astounding’.

Learning

These learning resources and activities are linked to the NSW curriculum and are designed to engage students through key inquiry questions and original materials from the Library's collections.

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