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:
Rome, Italy, 15 May 2013
Biblioteca Nazionale, viale Castro Pretoria 105
Fort Monte Maso, Valli del Pasubio, Italy, 18 May 2013
Please check out this website regularly for more information and updates.
Click here to visit our virtual exhibition!
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.'
Europeana 1914-1918 goes to Italy
Europeana 1914-1918 is gearing up to visit Italy for the first time. A Family History Roadshow will take place on 16 March at Fort Cadine in Trento, in the Trentino region of northern Italy.
Once again, the community is invited to bring along family memorabilia – including letters, photographs, objects, and diaries – and the stories that go with them, so that they can be scanned, recorded and added to the Europeana 1914-1918 archive.
The venue for the Roadshow is Fort Cadine, otherwise known as Forte Bus de Vela. This historic building was built between 1860 and 1861, and strategically placed at the entrance to Trento. It was part of a group of permanent fortifications in defence of the communication routes to the region’s capital. It is a road barricade, made with pink calcareous ashlar stone, and has recently been restored.
Fort Cadine, along with almost 80 others, controlled the Trentino region, defending the border between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire at the start of the 1900s. Around the start of the First World War, the area was fortified further with hundreds of kilometres of trenches and strongholds. After the war, many of these constructions fell into decay and, in a certain sense, became part of the Alpine environment, others remained fearlessly standing and some, like Fort Cadine, have been restored or turned into museums and can be visited.
The war lasted a year longer in the Trentino region than in the rest of Italy because at the time, the region was part of the Tyrol, an Austro-Hungarian province. In fact, when the conflict started in 1914, its citizens, soldiers of the emperor, were sent to fight on the Russian front, in Galicia, a region now divided between Poland and Ukraine. 60,000 left for the war and more than 11,000 died, while over 100,000 civilians were evacuated to Austria and Italy and 2,000, suspected of being pro-Italian or pro-Austrian, were interned.
The Trentino region now has a programme of activities aiming to replace the ‘fronts of war with paths of peace’, with a series of projects that aim to bring about a ‘tomorrow of agreement between peoples of different cultures and faiths’. The Europeana 1914-1918 Family History Roadshow is part of this programme.
For more information about Trentino’s activities commemorating the Great War, you can visit this page
Further Europeana 1914-1918 Family History Roadshows will take place in Italy later in the year. Watch this space for more details!