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.

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.

  • “The Anzac CovesDispensers of joy and jollityFun and frivolity” They were a respite from mud, fear and death. The Anzac Coves entertainment troupe performed with a lively sense of humour which satirised military life and the soldiers loved it. They set up their theatres in barns and sheds, just back from the trenches and their shows were always packed. They were so popular they toured Britain during 1918 and even performed at Buckingham Palace in front of the King, Queen and Princess Mary. 

Research

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.)

Graphic map of the Dardanelles/ drawn by G.F. Morrell, M2 390.8/1915/3

Item 02: W. J. A. Allsop diary, 2 July -13 September 1916, MLMSS 1606/Item 2, page 11 to page 23

'The European situation, 4 Aug', The Daily Telegraph war cartoons, 1914, Original drawings by Hal Eyre, PXD 518, Volume 1, No. 1

Featured
Box 8 Item 17 – Hugh Venables Vernon miscellaneous papers, 1916-1919.
Handmade protection with steely look and stylish upper lip!

At first glance it is apparent that this garment would have been quite difficult to actually put on, due to the tight fit. Undoubtedly handcrafted by a loved one, it has been photographed in action by the  wearer, as intended. I particularly like the attention to detail on the moustache – possibly one of the few things that a man in his position had complete control over.

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