Sources Created by Those Who Lived It
Any document, image, or artifact created at the time of the topic being researched is a primary source. Examples include eyewitness accounts, autobiographies and memoirs, diaries, letters, speeches, reports, newspapers, household and day-to-day objects, clothing, works of art, architecture, and photographs.
According to scholar Elizabeth Nix , "After initially referring to the “European War,” U.S. newspapers adopted “World War” once America entered the confrontation in 1917. On the other side of the Atlantic, meanwhile, Britons preferred “Great War” until the 1940s—with the notable exception of Winston Churchill, who reminisced about the “World War” in the 1927 volume of his memoir “The World Crisis.” (https://www.history.com/news/were-they-always-called-world-war-i-and-world-war-ii)
Please note that primary source documents are a reflection of the time and culture in which they were created and may contain language or images that are considered offensive today.
The Internet Archive is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Our mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.
The Internet Archive currently provides access to 28 million digitized books, 14 million audio recordings, 3.5 million images, 475 billion archived web pages, and more!
The following is a selection of the books available on the Great War published between 1914-1917:
Claude Grahame-White was an English pioneer of aviation, and the first to make a night flight, during the London to Manchester air race in 1910.
Punch was a British magazine of humor and satire published from 1841 to 1992 (it was revived and published again from 1996 to 2002).
Tales of the Great War by Henry John Newbolt (1916)
Sir Henry Newbolt, historian, poet, and authority on military matters wrote this book, addressed to a young man, from actual incidents to illustrate the gallantry and victories of the British Army and Navy to generate public support for the war effort. The term subaltern is primarily a British military term for a junior officer.
Hurd was editor of the Naval and Military Record between 1896 and 1899 and wrote for the Daily Telegraph between 1899 and 1928. He was the author of numerous books on the Great War at sea.
Important notes for searching for primary sources in news / periodical databases:
History Databases Containing Primary Source Materials
The British Library: World War One: Collection Items Discover over 500 historical sources from both sides of the conflict, contributed by institutions from across Europe.
NEW British Pathe Film Archive: WWI, the Definitive Collection British Pathé holds one of the finest and most comprehensive WW1 archives in the world. Hundreds of films are available to view (but not to copy). Categories include Women, Gas Attacks, Trench Warfare, The Home Front, Artillery and Shelling, Machine Guns, and more.
EuroDocs: World War I Look for those available in English translation. From Brigham Young University Library.
The Great War, 1914 to 1918 from the UK National Archives.
Guide to Online Primary Sources: World War I From UC San Diego.
Imperial War Museum (United Kingdom)
National Archives (United Kingdom)
NEW Stories from the World War One Collection of the State Library of New South Wales, Australia include the personal accounts found in diaries, maps that document the progress of the war, newspapers and ephemera that reflect what was happening on the home front, life captured through the photographer’s lens.
The War of the Nations: Portfolio in Rotogravure Etchings This remarkable image collection was originally published by the New York Times shortly after the armistice. The Library of Congress is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.), or any other restrictions.
World War I Document Archive From Brigham Young University Library.
World War I Primary Resource Guide aims to highlight a range of key primary resources relevant to the British experience of WWI, such as life in the armed forces, the homefront, cultural output (literature, etc). From The Bodleian Library of Oxford University.
LIFE AS A SOLDIER
MILITARY STRATEGY and TACTICS
TREATIES AND ALLIANCES
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