Monday, April 28, 2014

Crowdsourcing Army for World War 1 archives

Operation War Diary is a cooperative effort by the British National Archives, the Imperial War Museum and crowdsourcing website Zooniverse aimed at making previously inaccessible data available to academics and amateur historians alike, creating a formidable “hive mind” concept to offer fresh perspectives on the First World War.
First World War unit diaries, digitised by the British National Archives, allow us to hear the voices of those that sacrificed their lives and are even more poignant now as there are no living veterans who can speak directly about the events of the war.
More than 10,000 people worldwide have volunteered to tag names, locations and other key details in the diaries since the site’s launch eight weeks ago and officials say their collective work — more than 260,000 named individuals and 332,000-plus locations — is equivalent to two years of archival work.
More than 200 diaries have already been verified using the data to digitally map and analyse patterns and trends in the four-year, unit-driven global conflict. Ranging from cover pages to maps to narrative reports, the diaries are catalogued by theatre of operations, unit and dates. Users can then select a diary “to work on” and provide missing pieces of the puzzle. Once completed, all of the data produced by Operation War Diary will be available for free. If you are interested in joining in, there is a ten minute tutorial to get started.
The story of the British Army on the Western Front during the First World War is waiting to be discovered in 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries. Operation War Diary needs your help to reveal the stories of those who fought in the global conflict that shaped the world we live in today.
Further information is available in an article by Joshua Rhett Miller  at

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