Your family history of World War One
Europeana 1914-1918 is collecting material from across Europe.
Do you have pictures, letters, postcards, souvenirs or other items from 1914-1918 relating to World War One? Do you have a story or anecdote to tell about those involved or affected? Please add it to the online story collection so the world can know about it.
Upcoming Collection Days
After the success of our World War One family history roadshows last year, we are now gearing up and visiting more European countries in 2013!
Future Roadshows will be held at:
Erfgoedcel Noorderkempen - Warande Turnhout
Saturday, 7 September 2013
Erfgoedcel Kerf - Balen
Saturday, 15 September 2013
Erfgoedcel Kempens Karakter - CC Lier
Saturday, 12 October 2013
Breendonk – fort Breendonk
Saturday 19 October 2013
Erfgoedcel Kempens Karakter - Herentals
Saturday 14 December 2013
Kasteel d’Ursel - Bornem
Sunday 2 March 2014
Arboretum Kalmthout - North-Antwerp
Sunday 23 March 2014
Please check out this website regularly for more information and updates.
Click here to visit our virtual exhibition!
Italian roadshows unearth heartbreaking stories
11 June 2013
The Europeana 1914-1918 Family History Roadshows continued their tour of Italy in May, with events on 15 May at the Rome National Central Library, and on 18 May at Valli del Pasubio in the striking location of Monte Maso Fort. The Rome event was organised in collaboration with the Central Institute for the Single Directory of Italian Libraries of MIbAC (Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities) and with the support of the National Museum of the Italian Renaissance.
Many members of the public contributed their personal stories and brought their families’ letters, diaries, notebooks, photographs and medals from the battle front. Among them were the story of a man who was saved by a gold medal that stopped a bullet, and the tale of a mother who, having woken in the middle of the night with a feeling of terror, found out that her son was killed by a grenade at the time she woke up. Among the memorabilia there was also a touching letter written from the front in which a man gave the custody of his three-year-old child to his brother, and other letters sent from a soldier to his wife, in which he signaled his position on the back of the stamp.
In Rome, we collected over 70 stories and more than 600 files to illustrate them, whilst in Valli del Pasubio, 40 personal stories and 150 items gave us over 1,800 images to do with the First World War.
We also had the opportunity to hold an educational seminar about the use of First World War digital archives. The seminar, aimed at schools, got the web generation involved in preserving historical memories through the use of new technologies, and engaged them in contributing to Europeana 1914-1918, the Europe-wide archive of a unique and important period of world history.
Taking Europeana 1914-1918 personally
As you'll know if you're a frequent visitor to this site, Europeana 1914-1918 is a crowd-sourced project. That means that it is you, its users, the members of the public, who make it what it is. It's your contributions, your stories, your time and effort. So far, with your help, we've collected over 2,500 stories and 40,000 digital files to illustrate them. A huge thank you from all of us.
One contributor, however, has gone even further than simply submitting his family stories to the archive. Christian Reinboth from Germany has blogged about it and offered to set up a 'Europeana Day' in his home town to help others to add their stories to the collection.
Christian's great-great uncle Friedrich Reinboth fought in the First World War and unfortunately, didn't come home from the Ukraine to his native Nordhausen, Germany. Looking through the family attics, Christian found not only postcards and letters from him but also drawings, certificates and other military documents as well as handwritten field diaries from Friedrich's 7-year stint in a Hussarian regiment.
A photograph of the two brothers Friedrich (left) and Carl Reinboth (right), taken some time in the year of 1914. The older brother Friedrich is dressed in the parade uniform of the 14. Hussarian Regiment 'Friedrich II von Hessen-Homburg', in which he served during World War One.
So how did Christian find out about the Europeana 1914-1918 project? He says, 'Over the last few years, I have done volunteer work for the Museumsverband Sachsen-Anhalt, which is currently organising a touring exhibition about the First World War, which will be shown in many museums in Saxony-Anhalt from 2014 to 2018. Additionally, many exhibits related to the First World War are being digitised by the museums for the digitisation project museum-digital, which, in turn, is connected to Europeana via the ATHENA project. It was in one of the digitisation workshops organised by the association in 2011, that I first heard about the Europeana 1914-1918 project. When I subsequently browsed the 1914-1918 website, I read the call for participation and decided to get involved by digitising documents, photos and field postcards from the inheritance of my great-great-uncle Friedrich Reinboth, who served in the 14. Hussarian Regiment 'Friedrich II von Hessen-Homburg' during World War One and who died on March 21st 1918 during an encounter in the Ukraine. So far, I have been able to contribute 13 exhibits to the project. Digitising these has also inspired me to take up the task of transcribing Friedrich's hand-written war diary - as of today, I have transcribed all entries from July of 1914 ('The enthusiasm for the upcoming war is rising') to August of 1915.'
Christian is now encouraging others in the Walkenried area of Germany (an area with 4,600 residents in the Harz mountains) to contribute too. Christian offers to set up scanners, digital cameras and internet stations at the local museum in order to help others with the technical side of contributing. He has even put a short video together and posted it on Youtube
Christian says, 'Since I have had the opportunity to explore our own family archive in search of documents, letters and diaries written during World War One, I have becore more and more convinced that there are many undiscovered historical gems and untold family stories out there, that would certainly deserve to be preserved in the Europeana archives.'
In his blog, Christian, who is a computer scientist by day, also picks out some stories from the Europeana 1914-1918 archive that he finds most interesting. He recommends a diary of a British nurse with signatures of the wounded people she cared for, this 1914 letter giving a Tyrolean infantryman permission to stay out until 10 o'clock and this postcard from a Prague hospital from the year 1916.
Christian ends his blog with a sentiment that I'm sure we all share: 'So let's work together to ensure that the memories remain and that we collect the very personal family stories of this destructive and cruel war for the benefit of future generations.'