Diaries and letters


The State Library began collecting the diaries and letters of soldiers who served in World War I through an appeal launched by the Library in December 1918. Called the European War Collecting Project it was the first project in Australia to collect the personal diaries and letters which the Principal Librarian, William Ifould, recognised as important sources for generations of Australian students and researchers.

In June 1920, the Mitchell Librarian reported that 224 war diaries had been purchased, by 1924/25 the drive had slowed and by the end of the 1920s, ceased.

The Library continues to acquire diary and letter collections and has over 1200 volumes written by over 550 diarists. In many cases diarists kept more than one volume of their writings. Some diaries are hard to read, with tiny script. Some are very clear and could have been written yesterday. We have fast-tracked the digitisation of these collections, which are available through the Library’s catalogues. See the list of diarists in our collections.


Approximately half of the diaries have been transcribed by our dedicated team of volunteers – we need your help to finish the project!

Our goal is to complete the transcriptions of the digitised collections, so that you and library staff can more easily read and search across individual diaries or the collection as a whole.  

With completed transcriptions, we can examine relationships between individuals, search for different perspectives on the same event and experience life away from the front line. 

You can try our transcription tool for yourself!

Featured
Street signs, the corner of Frederick St and Dodson Av
Trove solves a family mystery

All the WW1 records for my great grand uncle showed he lived in Hanover St, Lidcombe. However, this street no longer exists. Searching in Trove I discovered the street had been renamed to honour another soldier, Private Frederick Doodson who was killed on Anzac Day landing at the Dardanelles. The digitised newspapers helped me to unravel a mystery in the family history. Trove supplied the missing piece to the puzzle and also the reason why the street name was changed, and the wonderful recognition for the local soldier who died.

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