2014 marked the one hundred year anniversary period when the first Australian Expeditionary forces were sent to Egypt in September 1914.
This commemorative initiative has been embraced by the National and State Libraries Australasia – as the First World War touched the lives of nearly every Australian at this time.
The State Library of Queensland (SLQ) has engaged with communities and libraries across regional Queensland, in digitising photos, letters and ephemera, to help Queenslanders learn more of the WWI Queensland story.
One stage of this digitisation project by the SLQ was to produce high quality scans of all issues of The Queenslander Pictorial, starting with the WWI period. The supplements from this period contained portrait pages – packed with up to 90 individual portraits per page. The searchable name index will be enhanced with links to the individual portrait of each soldier – putting the image into its context and also a link to the digitised issue of the broadsheet – The Queenslander, in Trove and the National Archives of Australia.
Twenty eight thousand individual portraits were extracted from The Queenslander Pictorialover four months representing the total Queensland contingent fighting in the First World War. Each miniature portrait found within the pages of this broadsheet, had their surnames listed in raw handwritten font and every single portrait page from 1914 to 1918 are listed with the same title: Reinforcements – an unfortunate military description of fresh faced boys and family men. THIS is the reason for reflection.
As one of three volunteers working with the manager of Collection Preservation and the Visual Media Coordinator at SLQ, we extracted thousands of these discerning faces from the digitised pages of The Queenslander, a legacy initiative by the Re-imagining Libraries program. This legacy program –QANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation, is a five-year program that will commemorate 100 years of World War I and Anzac history. By digitising this cultural content, we create ease of access in making content available to a bigger audience, most importantly creating a lasting visual legacy for all generations.
The volunteer work at SLQ merged with a World War I project that was given to me whilst working at the Gold Coast Local Studies library in 2014. Donated photographs or ‘Portraits’ have been researched, catalogued and uploaded to Picture Gold Coast creating a descriptive account of the pioneering Gold Coast family involvement in World War I. The Gold Coast region at this time was a burgeoning farming region of pioneering family communities. Over 100 men enlisted from here. One local family that paid the ultimate price was the Fulton family from Mudgeeraba, six of their sons enlisted and only three returned.
You can do your own research on your family’s involvement in the First World War. By searching Australian War Memorial records, you can research digitised military information perhaps not previously known or even visible to access.
From the National Library, Australian War Memorial and State Library Queensland to the Local Studies Library, and individuals commenting on these useful links – they all have gathered, nurtured and digitised portraits and personal material, creating a lasting legacy of the soldiers who went off on a brief adventure now to be a part of a much bigger story.
Fresh faced boys and family men. The Queensland Pictorial 1914 – 1918. http://www.qanzac100.slq.qld.gov.au/about/soldier-portraits
Tiffany Mitchell is a digital volunteer with State Library Queensland.