Doing our bit: Mosman 1914-1918

Article image - Doing our bit: Mosman 1914-1918 A postcard found in a chimney, featuring local Francis Herbert Semple and a friend in front of a sphinx and pyramid in Egypt 1916 was among the many generous donations to the project.

Mosman Library Service in New South Wales, has acknowledged the centenary of the First World War with an innovative online resource.

Doing Our Bit provides a place where the public can upload images and share stories and research relating to the wartime experiences of local service people, the site allows the creation of links to other repositories, archives, libraries and museums around the world, adding to the information available.

The idea began with three First World War honour boards held in the Mosman Local Studies Collection. The boards featured photographic portraits of Mosman men who enlisted in the Great War.

The list of names was expanded to include the honour roll on the local war memorial, sporting venues, churches and community halls and soon numbered 1600.

The photographic portraits on the honour boards were digitised and uploaded to Trace, the library’s digital archive repository, and also made available on Flickr.

In 2012 Doing Our Bit began in earnest with a Hack Day bringing together programmers, local historians, archivists and library staff to look at ways of designing the site, gathering data and establishing a plan of action.  

Next was a scanning day where the public were invited to bring in their treasured memorabilia which was scanned and added to Trace so they could be linked to the Doing Our Bit site in the future.

Made possible by a State Government Library Development Grant this unique site, Doing Our Bit: Mosman 1914-1918, was launched in 2013 to a welcoming crowd with a fanfare of live music of the era and an exhibition of unique personal memorabilia, ephemera and photographs.

Workshops and seminars were held covering aspects of the Great War with topics such as researching soldiers and nurses; The Ottoman Army 1908 to 1918; the history of conscription in Australia; an examination of how Australia entered the Great War and a look at the significance of the Australian Airforce.

One of the most popular features of the site is the blog which provides the ideal platform for sharing anecdotes about local Anzacs. Here, many fascinating stories of bravery, determination and recklessness can be read.

Another key part of this project was sharing the work done behind the scenes so other institutions and groups could use the tools and processes developed for their own resources. This work is documented on the Project blog.

Doing our Bit: 1914-1918 has become a valuable historic tool which while hosted by Mosman Library Service is owned by the community.