EU: Launch of the digital arc…

EU: Launch of the digital archive ‘Europeana 1914-1918’

Published on: 12/02/2014

Europeana 1914-1918 is the most important pan-European collection of original First World War source material. It is the result of three years of work by 20 European countries and will include:

  • 400 000 rare documents digitised by 10 state libraries and two other partners in Europe;
  • 660 hours of unique film material digitised by audiovisual archives;
  • 90 000 personal papers and memorabilia of some 7,000 people involved in the war, held by their families and digitised at special events in 12 countries.

Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana, said: “It's a unique collection of raw materials – rare, fragile and hardly seen before. We're encouraging everyone - history teachers, Wikipedians, apps developers - to use it in new ways. Most of the content is under an open licence, because we want people to re-use it to help broaden everyone's understanding of our European past.”

Europeana 1914-1918 is full of original source material - digitised photographs, maps, diaries, newspapers, letters, drawings and other content that can be used by teachers, historians, journalists, students and interest groups to create new resources. Already, the site is providing content for a new exhibition called The First World War: Places of transition and a new multilingual educational site developed by the British Library in London.

Three projects combined to create the Europeana 1914-1918 web resource:

  • Europeana Collections 1914-1918, which has brought together 10 great European libraries and two further partners to digitise over 400,000 documents from their collections – everything from rare trench newspapers to censored letters from troops;
  • European Film Gateway 1914, which is a partnership of 26 institutions which has provided a unique body of work, featuring not only all of the phases and locations of war but also all genres from propaganda to anti-war films, contributed by 21 film archives;
  • Europeana's family history roadshows, which were developed in partnership with Oxford University and have been held in 12 countries so far, attended by thousands of ordinary people who want to have memorabilia digitised and to tell the stories of their family at war.

The German Minister of Culture, Monika Grütters, said: “Among the numerous projects the Federal Government of Germany is initiating and financially supporting during the current Centenary 2014, Europeana 1914-1918 is a highlight due to its pan-European dimension. It shows the stark difference between the European disruptions of that time and our way of cooperating nowadays. It is vital for the Government to point out, especially to young people, that today’s Europe is a union based on shared values, policies and justice. That’s the best way to avoid the wars, terror and fragmentation that Europe suffered in the 20th century. We don’t just want to show historical events, we want to use them for the present and the future. The Europeana project will help shape our views of that time and it will make a great contribution to the mutual understanding of the European people, despite the conflicts of history.”

Hermann Parzinger, the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation to which the Berlin State Library belongs, said: "The launch of the Europeana 1914-1918 is a visionary start to the commemoration year ‘1914.Aufbruch.Weltbruch’ run by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and all its related institutions. The outcomes of the new website will be of long-lasting value. The worldwide access to this tremendous collection of highly relevant documents from the First World War offers a great basis for researchers and the general public to understand the events one hundred years ago.”

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