Recently I’ve spoken to a number of people involved in projects researching those who enlisted for military service in World War 1. As the centenary of WW1 approaches, there seem to be many commemoration projects underway and these projects seem to be running largely in isolation.
Some projects are in conjunction with local libraries, with volunteer researchers adding information to local studies collections. Other projects aim to produce CDs or books to be sold.
It seems to me that the lack of coordination between the various projects could lead to overlapping research of people of interest, and thus potential waste of scarce research resources. Someone might have been born in Mosman, but lived in Ryde at the time of enlisting – and so the projects of both those areas might have flagged the individual as someone from their area to be researched. Indeed that individual may even appear on the war memorial in yet another location, if a family member contributed the soldier’s name to their local war memorial.
How to determine who were the ‘Men of Mosman’? For the Ryde Goes to War project, volunteer researchers look at:
- Ryde 1913 electoral roll
- Ryde 1913 Sands Directory
- Ryde 1914 Wise Directory
- Ryde male births 1860 – 1900
When research resources are scarce, it makes sense for there to be some coordination between the projects to identify which individuals are being researched and in which resources. How best to do this? Local studies librarians’ networks could allow sharing of information about their projects, but what about projects not coordinated by libraries?
One possibility might be a small notice on the Mapping our Anzacs website, which allows submissions of scrapbook entries. Obviously anyone can contribute photos or research about the lives of family members, but it would also be possible to add a scrapbook post that says something like ‘This individual is being researched by the Mosman 1914-18 project – further information can be found at …’
Thus whether the information gathered in research is intended to be freely available at a library or website, or even sold in a commercial publication, anyone interested in that WW1 participant would be directed to further information. Also the various project coordinators could make informed decisions about whether or not to proceed with researching an individual already being considered as part of another project.
The War memorials in NSW website includes a spreadsheet of summary information about names on particular memorials. The various projects could consider adding information to those spreadsheets, and also add details of additional memorials to those already included on the site.
Those involved in the various projects should also be aware of the Australian Government Anzac Centenary funding grants and publicity – see www.anzaccentenary.gov.au
What other projects are you aware of?