The Austrian National Library, Europeana and World War One

An meine VölkerAs part of the best practice network Europeana Awareness, the Austrian National Library has teamed up with Europeana to promote not only Europeana, but especially Europeana’s contribution to the commemoration of the First World War in Austria.

On Friday, August 1, 2014, a Collection Day will be held at the ORF Radiokulturhaus, Argentinierstraße 30a, 1040 Vienna from 10:00 to 18:00. Bring your memorabilia of the Great War such as letters, diaries, postcards, photographs, etc. to be digitised and included in the vast collection of World War One material that has already been made available through the project Europeana 1914-1918.

In Europeana 1914-1918, stories from the public such as unpublished letters, photographs and keepsakes from the war are being collected and digitised. To date, twenty countries have taken part in Europeana 1914-1918’s family history roadshows, digitising over 130,000 items.

But you cannot only find personal memorabilia on Europeana 1914-1918; the World War One portal gives you access to institutional material as well. You can research digital objects from the projects Europeana Collections 1914-1918 and the European Film Gateway 1914 (EFG 1914), but you will also discover sources from Australia (Digital Public Library of America, Trove) and New Zealand (Digital New Zealand).

Within the project Europeana Collections 1914-1918, a consortium of 12 partners including ten national libraries (the Austrian National Library was one of them!) digitized over 400,000 documents representing the full range of their collections including books, newspapers, trench journals, maps, sheet music, children’s literature, photographs, posters, pamphlets, propaganda leaflets, original art, religious works, medals, coins and much more.

EFG 1914 has digitized 660 hours of films and 5,600 film-related documents of its 26 partners including newsreels, documentaries, fiction films, propaganda and anti-war films. The films can be watched on the Europeana website as well as at the European Film Gateway.

All these digitisation efforts should serve the need to understand our common history and to learn from it. Digitisation nowadays plays a vital role in discovering interesting artefacts to illustrate history and to enable transnational perspectives on historic events. Hans Petschar, Historian and Librarian at the Austrian National Library: “Europeana 1914-1918 permits to overcome National stereotypes and nationalist historical views on the First World War dominating the Centenary events 2014. Looking at the fascinating individual memories from all regions and parts of Europe we can imagine the scientific potential of transnational and global views on the Great War.”

The Austrian National Library is commemorating the Great War with the exhibition  “An meine Völker! Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914-1918” (“To My Peoples! The First World War 1914-1918”), which runs until November 2, 2014. Curated by the renowned historian Univ.-Prof. Dr. Manfried Rauchensteiner, the exhibition presents the war from the perspective of the exceptional World War I collection of the former Imperial Court Library. A large amount of objects was only able to be made available and is now on display because of the Europeana Collections 1914-1918 project.

Since the exhibition has been such a great success, we have decided in the course of the promotion for the Collection Day to make it available online. Based on the physical exhibition, aspects of the First World War’s history are presented in seven chapters and illustrated by material accessible through Europeana. It guides you through the Emperor’s manifestos, from announcements for mobilisation, to administering shortages, to dealing with prisoners of war and refugees. It focuses on the role of Emperor Franz Joseph and his successor and grandnephew Karl. The big influnce of the Great War on children is presented in remarkable drawings and letters by students in the chapter “My dear Pupils”. The exhibitions ends with a selection of photographs from the front, the hinterland and life in the field.

Or browse through other digital sources developed by Europeana Collections 1914-1918 partners:

Author: Susanne Tremml