Introduction | About this project
| The main galleries
| Special resources
| Reference sections
| Images and transcripts
| Film and sound
| Metadata | Copyright
| Exhibition credits
This exhibition makes available an online selection of unique and
richly varied source material on the First World War, set in its historical
context. It provides resources for a wide variety of adult learners
in the field of modern history. Whether you are pursuing an interest
in family or military history, studying history formally, looking
for research resources, or generally interested in discovering more
about what the British writer H G Wells called 'the war that will
end war', the exhibition offers something for you.
The exhibition draws on historical documents, film and sound available in Britain's
National Archives and one of its leading museums. It starts from,
but is not limited to, a British perspective on the war, and also
aims to create a wider understanding of the global nature of the
conflict and the profound consequences that resulted from it - consequences
which, in areas such as the Balkans and Palestine, are still being
About this project
'The First World War: Sources for History' is a partnership between
The National Archives
Imperial War Museum, funded by the New
Opportunities Fund. The material presented here is held by
The National Archives or the Imperial War Museum.
This exhibition appears on Pathways
to the Past, The National Archives' website for lifelong
Unless otherwise specified, throughout the exhibition document
references are to items held by The National Archives.
The main galleries
These are accessed by the icons on the 'home' page. 'The First
World War, 1914-18' and 'Aftermath' feature documents giving an
insight into the overall history of the war and its consequences.
'Britain and the War' looks at its effects on Britain. 'The Military
Conflict' provides examples of records relating to the fighting,
while 'Service Records for the First World War' introduces visitors
to the main categories of service records and gives examples of
how to read them.
The galleries also offer pointers to further research and reading.
At the bottom of each page you will find a selection of further
sources that can be seen at The National Archives. The last page
of each gallery is a 'Read On' section, giving books, articles and
websites that may be of interest. On this page you will also find
a link to the collections of the Imperial War Museum.
Each page of a gallery can be reached from the menu on the left-hand
side. To go back to the 'home' page, click on the First World War
icon in the top left-hand corner.
Special resources sections
You can reach these through the menu at the top of each page throughout
the exhibition. All the pages in the special resources sections
navigate back to a relevant main gallery and to the 'home' page.
Within each of the special resources sections, the various topics
can be reached from the menu on the left-hand side of the page.
DOCUMENT PACKS - for students and general readers
These cover three topics: The Origins of the First World War, Women
and the First World War, and The Eastern Front. The 'document packs'
provide a wide range of documents, offering resources for in-depth
SPOTLIGHTS ON HISTORY - for students and general readers
These look at a variety of First World War issues, including some
(such as the anti-war movement) that were controversial at the time
and some (such as air raids or the Armenian massacres) that have
been largely forgotten.
BATTLES - for those with an interest in military history
This section provides more detailed sources on five major military
engagements of the war: the Somme, Jutland, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia,
and the Allied counter-offensive of 1918.
PEOPLE - for those with an interest in family history and
in individual experiences in the war
These six short biographies look at records concerning those who
served in different roles in the conflict. They include Thomas Aageson,
a private soldier recorded in the 'Burnt Documents' (the service
records destroyed by fire during the Second World War); J R R Tolkien,
who served as an officer and was at the Somme; and Eric Skeffington
Poole, a victim of shell shock who was the first British army officer
to be executed.
These can be accessed from the 'home' page.
TIMELINE gives the main events of the years 1914-20.
MAPS contains ten maps of the main theatres of war.
QUICK REF provides concise details about people and places
mentioned in the main text, together with definitions of some military
terms. You can also access the 'quick ref' section by clicking on
the 'glossary' links throughout the exhibition.
FEEDBACK gives you a chance to tell us what you think of
Images and transcripts
Click on the thumbnails to download the image. If above 120k, the
'byte size' of the image is given below it (the larger images may
take some time to download). You can access a transcript (or where
relevant translation) of each document by clicking on the link below
the thumbnail. The transcript can also be accessed from the image
'window' - and after looking at the transcript, you can return to
the image or to the main text.
The aim has been to provide transcripts that reflect the original
documents as accurately as possible. However, documents are not
always clearly legible, especially if handwritten, and for research
purposes the transcripts are not a substitute for examining the
original documents. In the transcripts, obvious typing errors have
occasionally been corrected for the sake of clarity and in places
extraneous notes have been omitted.
Film and sound
The exhibition includes a selection of film clips and sound recordings
from the collection of the Imperial War Museum. The films can be
played on a PC using Windows
Media Player (usually supplied with Windows), or on a Macintosh
computer using Quicktime.
Sound recordings will be played in Flash
or, alternatively in Windows Media Player or Quicktime. If the relevant
'plug ins' are not installed on your computer, click on the appropriate
link provided here.
Metadata (information about the images) is given on each page.
To see this information, go to 'View', then 'Source', and you will
find it in the code for the page.
The various items reproduced in this exhibition are held either
by The National Archives or by the Imperial War Museum. The majority
of them are Crown copyright. Where Crown copyright does not apply,
we would like to thank the copyright holders for granting us the
Copyright has expired for some older works, and others are covered
by an exception in copyright law that permits publication without
permission. In other cases, despite our best efforts we have not
always been able to locate the copyright holders. If you believe
that any rights that are yours have inadvertently been infringed,
we would ask you to contact us and to accept our apologies.
For details of the individual images, please see Acknowledgements
and copyright details.
A The National Archives project, in partnership with the Imperial War
Museum, with external funding from the New Opportunities Fund.
Writing and research: Alan McDougall
Exhibition designed and created by: Anya Langmead, Taz Khalique
Project management: Marion Wallace
Advice and support: Adrian Ailes, Vanessa Carr, John Cassidy, Lynne
Cookson, Guy Grannum, Joe Kelly, Roger Kershaw, Michael Leydon,
Michael McGrady, Bruno Pappalardo, William Philpott, David Prior,
Marika Sherwood, Peter Simkins, John Sly, William Spencer, Emma
Transcripts, translations and additional research: Barbara Arent,
Lynne Cookson, Edgar Flacker, Lizzie Hodgson, Karen Horn
Editing and proofreading: Nancy Duin, Kay Hyman, Peter Leek
Image production: Christian Potter, Matt Stilliard, Emma Wallis
Website management: Angela Mullen
Special thanks to Jane Carmichael, Philip Dutton and Tony Richards
at the Imperial War Museum and to Andrea Allen at the New Opportunities