This guide focuses on Australians serving in World War 1. It also includes some information relevant to Great Britain, other Commonwealth nations and other combatant nations. There is a section on nurses and women's war occupations.
Many countries involved in World War I commissioned official national war histories. They are an excellent resource when researching a specific country's involvement.
These histories are multi-volume sets providing very detailed accounts of the actions of units. They are the official version of events. The Australian official history took many years to publish, from the 1920s to the 1940s.
When researching an individual soldier, you may come across references to places, names and incidents that you wish to investigate further. You can combine information found in the official histories with information found in contemporary newspapers, for example The Argus newspaper. This may give different perspectives on specific events Try here for tips on using newspapers for research.
The Official history of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, edited by Charles Bean (or C.E.W. Bean), is the foundation study of Australia's involvement in the World War I. The twelve-volume set describes day-by-day military operations, with maps and photographs. Bean, a war correspondent and historian, wrote the first 6 volumes. It is a mammoth work that was originally published between 1920 and the final volume in 1942.
For details of his Bean's life, look at the entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
The entire publication is available online through the Australian War Memorial. Each volume contains an index to contents of that volume.
This Weekly Times photo also appears in the Australian military journal, Jan 1915, page 32.
The official history of the Great War is the series title for the British history of the war, based on official documents by direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. The history is published in separate books dealing with different theatres of war. Find each title on the State Library catalogue under the name of the author, James E. Edmonds, for example:
Other titles are listed under the author's name.
Some World War I unit histories held by the State Library which are out of copyright have been digitised. You can read some of the out-of-copyright unit histories on our website
All the unit histories held by the State Library are listed on the catalogue on the Search & Discover page. Search the catalogue by the name of the unit or battalion to find books held by the library.
The New Zealand official histories can be found in four volumes:
In line with the stage 3 restrictions announced by the Premier, State Library Victoria closed on Thursday 9 July.
We will advise when there is any update to this situation.
Our Ask A Librarian reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.