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.
Photographs can give a real sense of a soldier's life during the War. Often soldiers won't be identified by name but by searching for places or events, you can find photographs reflecting a soldier's activities at a particular place and time.
For instance, here is a photo of Australian signallers at Tel-el-Kebir in Egypt moving gifts sent by the Australian Comforts Fund. (Click on View Online to see the photo).
If you are looking for a photo of a particular person, newspapers may have what you need.
Photographs of servicemen and nurses which appeared in Victorian newspapers such as the Weekly Times, the Herald, Punch and the Leader during World War I can be found on the Trove website. Click on the heading Digitised Newspapers and more, then the Adv (Advanced) search option. This lets you search by keywords. You can search for a name using inverted commas, for example "John Smith" and add another term such as Anzac to avoid lots of irrelevant results. You can limit your search to Victorian newspapers and click on the newspaper titles you are interested in. These include many local newspapers. There is an option to limit your search to a date range.
Once you have done the search, you can sort the results by decade to narrow your search to the World War I years.
Regarding photos found on Trove: Some of these photographs have not been reproduced very clearly. You can find the same Victorian newspapers in our microfilm collection in the Newspapers & Family History Reading Room. The microfilm-reader printers can adjust the photos for better results.
If you have found a photo on the Trove newspapers, you may not need the Australiana index, but it is another option. It lets you search by name and keyword to find the title of the newspaper and the exact date and page number.
The Australiana Index is on the State Library website: Go to Search & Discover, then to the heading Search our catalogue & collections. Click the link to the Australiana Index. The Construct a Search option lets you combine search terms, with one term in each search box. The search term used for many World War I items in the Australiana Index is European War, the contemporary term for the war. You can combine this term with a person's name or other terms. Put each term in a separate box and click search.
The Australiana Index does not have digitised items: it provides the name of the publication and date, so you can find it either on Trove or in State Library Victoria collections.
Staff at the Information Desk can assist you with these searches.
Illustrated war magazines include many photographs.
Anzac despatch rider at Gallopoli, Illustrated war news, 29 Dec 1915, part 73.
The Library has digitised many images from our Pictures Collection. You can view these on our web catalogue.
To find these photos, go to our Search & Discover page. There is a catalogue search box in the top right hand corner of the screen: type in the term for the war: World war 1914-1918 and select Pictures & photographs on the drop-down menu. Click search.
You can also search in the larger catalogue search box further down the page. This search gives you thousands of results, but you can refine your search to Pictures under the heading Resource Type on the right hand side of the search results page.
You can make your search more specific: for instance, try the search war 1914 light horse.
You can search using keywords relating to places and battles, regiments etc. Just make sure to narrow it to the Pictures Collection, as in the examples above.
Here are the results for searches for Gallipoli within the Pictures Collection.
There are a number of collections from individuals including
Many war posters have been digitised by the Library.
The Shirley Jones collection of military postcards contains postcards from the First World War. Many include messages from soldiers.
They have been digitised and can be searched in the catalogue under the collection name. Include the terms war 1914 to narrow the search.
There are a range of pictorial books with excellent images of the War. Try this subject search: World War 1914-1918 Pictorial Works.
Illustrated war news, 21 Jun 1916, page 28
The Australian War Memorial houses a large image collection. Many of these images are catalogued but not yet digitised.
To search image holdings across Australian libraries, try a search on Trove. Use the phrase 'World War 1914-1918' and then add further keywords. For instance, these are the results for the search World War 1914-1918 Beersheba.
Photographs from both the State Library of Victoria and the Australian War Memorial are included in Trove.
A selection of images from magazines of the time can be viewed on the Pandora archive.
There are many sites on the Internet that reproduce images from the War.
Type 'World war one images' into a search engine. Many large sites will be retrieved. Add more terms to your narrow your search.
The World War I Pictorial Honour Rolls of Australians website includes photos of soldiers provided by family members, the Education Department, the Australian War Memorial and other sources.
Each entry gives service details and biographical information about the soldier. There is a link to interstate pictorial honour rolls.
As of June 15 2020 the Library is open with reduced spaces and services.
Our Ask A Librarian reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.