WW1 Centenary

Great War Centenary 2014-2018 website by Paul Reed

Lives Of The First World War Project


The Imperial War Museum announced a new project yesterday entitled Lives of the First World War which will encourage the public to register with a new website and in time upload details about soldiers who fought in the First World War; importantly it is aimed at all who served, and not just those who died. The new project is in collaboration with genealogy company Brightsolid who, for example, digitised the 1911 Census for The National Archives. The premise behind the project is to create a massive online and interactive database of the generation who fought in the Great War and allow users to upload photographs and other content to share with a wider audience.

The project is very similar to the BBC’s Remembrance Wall, a project I was historical consultant for in 2008. However, while this is still online it was not really designed to be a lasting online database and this new Lives project promises that it will be permanent resource, and that is to be greatly welcomed.

It does, however, beg a few questions. One of the great weaknesses of the Remembrance Wall is that there was not the personnel available to check the details being uploaded. Just glancing at a few entries it is easy to find factual inaccuracies, which of course does question the validity of the whole resource. Lives has partners including Chris Baker’s website and the Great War Forum. If the response is anything like what we had in 2008, and personally I think that it will be much, much greater, then they will certainly have their work cut out in verifying all the material being uploaded.

The main aspect that concerns me, however, is the involvement of a commercial partner like Brightsolid. They did superb work with the 1911 Census but they are out to make money and their participation also begs the question of whether in time to maintain the important resource this is likely to become then it may be necessary to charge. People could find that material they have uploaded in good faith will at some point only be accessible if they pay to see it and a commercial organisation is making money from resources they have donated. I can see this leading to a few heated debates and may put people off from committing to the project, which would be a shame. Really a major venture like this should have been between two public institutions like the IWM and the BBC. Having said that the involvement of a commercial company could ensure its longevity but the implications of its involvement should be made clear from the very start.

The Lives Of The First World War project is a promising venture and I would encourage readers to visit the site and register for updates.



Author: ww1centenary

Military Historian & author who works in Television: visiting & interpreting battlefields all over the world. Currently working on WW1 projects for 2014-18.

4 thoughts on “Lives Of The First World War Project

  1. As I’ve commented on twitter (and GWF), while we are probably more familiar with BrightSolid’s publishing arm, they do also offer a full range of web hosting and general tech provision see http://www.brightsolid.com/online-technology. I suspect it is more in this guise that they are involved in this project, building the platform on which it will all happen. Obviously the experience of their publishing arm may have given them an edge in winning the work as they would be able to demonstrate a good understanding of some of the resources to be linked together (and will no doubt benefit from ongoing referrals to some of those paid resources)

  2. IWM give us some great photos. e’s my centenary thoughts… http://17thmanchesters.wordpress.com/about/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s