Posted - 31-05-2012


Digitising the First World War

Nearly a century ago in 1914 the Great War began.  It was a war which changed the world. And in my current role I am helping to digitise resources which were created during that time as part of a project examining the Welsh experience of the war. In little over a month approximately 60,000 newspaper pages in 22 titles have passed over my desk, I’ve seen death and destruction on a scale I can’t even imagine. Headlines talking about a “Great Victory” where a hundred yards have been won and thousands of deaths have been lost.  I’ve learnt how aviation developed in leaps and bounds during the First World War how the air force started off as the Royal Flying Corps. How planes and zeppelins were an important part of the war effort. I learnt that National Service didn’t start until 1916 something which I’d always assumed had been going from the start.  There were advertisements for the War Fund and the Widows Fund. And I learnt about the huge numbers of boys and men who went to war and never returned their pictures, their names and their ranks turning up in local newspapers with perhaps a short biography.

However even during one of the greatest upheavals Europe had ever faced, life went on and the newspapers still managed to print about the daily happening in their communities. There were advertisements for local businesses and articles about the local council, cinema listings and cartoons, market prices and murders, births and deaths, weddings and funerals. Everything was tinged by the war but it wasn’t all about the war either.

A First World War newspaper cartoon appealing for contributions to the Widows Fund

Nia Morwen Williams

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