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Stories and memorabilia of WWI survivors sought

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 14th March, 2012 4:57pm

Stories and memorabilia of WWI survivors sought

Dear sir - On Thursday 15th March, the National Library of Ireland is launching the National Library WWI Family History Roadshow, an event in the style of the BBC 'Antiques Roadshow'.

Europeana, the European digital library, archive and museum, is building the first ever online European archive of private memorabilia from WWI in time for the 100th anniversary of the war, at The National Library is helping to create this extraordinary source of previously unknown material for historians, schools, genealogists and cultural organisations.

The National Library is urging everyone to root out World War One private memorabilia - letters, photographs, diaries, postcards, medals, sketches, keepsakes, army discharge papers, coins, maps, army recruitment posters - belonging to family and friends who experienced the war, and to bring them to the roadshow on Wednesday 21st March from 10am to 7pm. On that day staff, historians and military experts will welcome visitors to the National Library, digitise their WWI material, and record their stories. Everything will be scanned on the spot by NLI staff; people will then be free to take their precious memorabilia home with them. Once scanned, the material will be uploaded to

As well as personal family photographs and other memorabilia supplied by the speakers on Thursday, a wide selection of World War One archives acquired by the National Library in recent years will be on display, including the extraordinary diary of Mary Martin, written while her son Charles was missing and wounded on the Salonika front in 1916. The diary includes accounts of the Easter Rising as well as references to Mary Martin's daughter Marie, who later became Mother Mary Martin, founder of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Poignant photographs of the family in the summers before the war, and of Charlie in his uniform, will accompany the diary.

Europeana is Europe's digital library, archive and museum. It launched its 1914-1918 family history project in Germany in 2011 to collect memorabilia and family stories from combat and the home front. Nine family history roadshows were held in major cities across Germany and thus far Europeana has recorded 25,000 digital images of unpublished diaries, maps, sketches and photographs recording life under fire and on the home front.

The purpose of Europeana 1914-1918 is to collect and preserve World War One memorabilia in digital format for historians, genealogists, schools and cultural organisations, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the war in 2014-2018. Oxford University pioneered this approach to family history in an original UK pilot programme which it rolled out with Europeana in Germany last year.


Brenda O'Hanlon,

O'Hanlon Media.

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