The First World War: Personal Experiences
The First World War: Personal Experiences allows researchers to explore the individual accounts, trench literature, and images of war collected from the citizens, soldiers, and military leaders serving on various sides in World War I.
This review is in progress. CRL is working to gather more information and critical assessment. We encourage our community to submit comments on their experiences with the database.
Sources for this review include information publicly posted or obtained directly from the publisher, data collected by CRL staff and members, and examination of the digital collection when possible. Other sources are noted where cited.
This digital collection brings together archival material including personal war diaries, letters, journals, photos, propaganda and recruiting posters, postcards, German army trench newspapers, and U.S. camp newspapers. It also includes photographs, digital maps, and scans of original artifacts.
Original collections for the primary sources include trench journals from the War Reserve Collection and general manuscript collections at Cambridge University Library. Other sources include German trench newspapers from the Bibliothek für Zeitgeschichte in the Württembergische Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart, Germany; the Liddle Collection at the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds; the Vera Brittain Archive from the Mills Memorial Library at McMaster University; and U.S. military camp newspapers from the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.
A number of object memorabilia, such as weapons and personal belongings, are presented in “360 degree mode” viewing a proprietaryJava Script plug-in .
A broad variety of secondary sources is available to support instruction, including essays by members of the editorial board, an image slideshow, and chronologies.
This digital collection of primary source materials draws from Adam Mathew’s microfilm series The First World War, which includes trench journals from the War Reserve Collection and general manuscript collections at Cambridge University Library.
All documents are indexed individually.
Technical platform and interface
There are standard interface tools for searching and browsing documents and images, and some "popular searches" are suggested to guide the user. The digital collection also makes use of several special value-added tools to enhance the user experience, including pre-combined image slide shows. Interactive maps feature animated battle scenes and utilize “temporal linking” to browse chronological relationships among various maps, as well as linking to documents or images in the database. A unique exploratory tool is described as a “Virtual Trench Experience”, where images of a preserved French trench and panoramic views as seen from the trench are linked up to emulate a sense of personally controlled spatial immersion.
A “My Archive” space allows the user to personally select and save groups of images and documents.
Strengths and weaknesses
The variety of materials and the opportunity to integrate content from several of the war-time opponents is quite impressive. The tone, focusing on individual soldier and citizen personal experiences, is unique. Considerable product investment has yielded powerful value-added tools, especially the interactive maps and “Virtual Trench” views. This database seems particularly suited to undergraduate learning or history buffs. But one wonders if the more advanced scholar will make significant use of the value-added tools. The advanced scholar will also have the challenge of integrating data from these personal collections with official documents and published texts.
Following the acquisition of Adam Matthew Digital and Adam Matthew Education by SAGE in early October, 2012, Adam Matthew issued a statement indicating that all existing contracts will remain between Adam Matthew and its partners, not transferred to SAGE. They have also posted details clarifying the status of licensing arrangements for the retention of digital materials and ongoing access to collections. Questions regarding Adam Matthew products, including licensing questions, will continue to be directed to the Adam Matthew team.
Direct from Publisher
|Subjects covered||First World War, European History, and American History|
|Geographic coverage||Africa, America, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Middle East, New Zealand and Poland|
|Content types||Diaries, journals, letters, postcards, scrapbooks and albums, photographs, sketches and paintings, sheet music, trench maps, propaganda and recruiting posters, and newspapers.|
|Source formats||Paper, artifacts, microfilm|
|P||Total titles||c. 5100|
|P||Total pages||c. 160,000|
|P||Digital collection launch date||October 2011|
|P||Completion date||October 2011|
|Major languages||English, German, and French|
|Browser compatibility||IE7 + Firefox, Safari|
|Authentication options||IP (username and password fro trials)|
|Archiving solution – master files||Portico|
|Archiving solution – derivative files||Available on DVD or similar format upon request|
|Availability in web discovery tools||N|
|Open URL target||Y (for secondary sources referenced)|
|Federated searching, z39.50||N|
|Local host option||Y|
|Full text displayed||Y|
|Color images||Y (majority in color)|
|Search full text||Y (for printed works)|
|Search within results||N|
|Limit results by dates and/or document types||Y|
|Display highlighted search terms||Y|
|Display snippet -- search term in context||N|
|Relevance sorting||Y (by default)|
|Print page||Y (via PDF)|
|Print full document||Y (via PDF)|
|ILL||Y (See point II of license agreement cites fair use provisions)|
|Restrictions on use||Academic/Fair use only|
|Publisher / Distributor||Adam Matthew Education|
|url; contact email||www.amedu.com|
|Related product(s)||Archives Direct|
|CRL Profile of Publisher||url|
|Multiple year payments option||N|
|Hosting charges||Y (5% of purchase price every five years [first five year period free])|
|List of purchasers available||N|
|Sample license available||Y (www.amdigital.co.uk/license)|
|MARC records purchase fee||N|
|Price tier basis||FTE & Carnegie Classification|