Europeana Collections 1914-1918 will create by 2014 – the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War - a substantial digital collection of material from national libraries and other partners from eight countries that found themselves on different sides of the historic conflict. See: www.europeana-collections-1914-1918.eu
The three-year project will make over 400,000 WWI sources publicly and freely available online for the first time – content that is often rare and highly fragile because of the deteriorating quality of the paper it was produced on and generally only accessible in reading rooms.
The digital collection will span the full range of national library collections including books, newspapers, trench journals, maps, music sheets, children’s literature, photographs, posters, pamphlets, propaganda leaflets, original art, religious works, medals and coins.
This material will highlight the importance of the First World War for a common European identity and reflect the experiences of people from different ethnic, linguistic, political, social and religious communities on all sides of the conflict, including those opposed to the war. It will permit new interpretations of history that go far beyond traditional military history and include artistic and cultural reinterpretation of the experiences of 1914-1918.
Professor Sir Andrew Motion commented on this project: "It is wonderful to learn that the British Library will work with partners from across Europe to digitise material relating to the First World War, and to make this accessible to all online. This is a tremendously important project that will transform access to Europe's shared cultural heritage in the run-up to the anniversary of the War's outbreak in 2014."
All the digitised collections will be made available through Europeana.eu, where they will join related material from other institutions as well as family papers and memorabilia from the war digitised by private individuals in Germany and the UK.
Jamie Andrews, the British Library’s Head of English and Drama said: "I am delighted that the British Library is working with Europeana, and with colleagues from across Europe, to build an online collection of material relating to all aspects of the First World War, and the ways that it touched civilians and servicemen from all parts of the world.”