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Mapping our Anzacs gives you three ways to commemorate the original Anzacs:
- locate a service person
- add to the scrapbook
- build a tribute
Locate a service person
The heart of Mapping our Anzacs is a tool to browse 375,971 records of service in the Australian Army during World War I according to the person’s place of birth or enlistment.
This tool gives you a new way of seeing Australia’s involvement in World War I.
There are over 375,000 World War I service records in the National Archives, from a time when the population of Australia was around 5 million. These records tell the stories not only of soldiers, but also of nurses, chaplains and others.
As you browse the maps, you can see how many people came from each part of the world – including over 65,000 born overseas. Some things are visible at a glance, such as the concentration of the Australian population along the east coast. Others encourage further exploration and discovery. Why did hundreds of soldiers enlist in Egypt? How did people born in Germany come to serve in the Australian armed forces?
Links from each place take you to a list of service people. You can then see each person’s details:
- Alias (if any)
- Service number (if any)
- Place of birth
- Place of enlistment
- Next of kin
- WWI dossier
- WWII dossier (if any)
From here, you can go on to see the full service record or continue to browse. You might want to follow the links to other people who enlisted in the same place. Or you might want to find out who else nominated a next of kin of the same name, and so on.
In some cases the WWI service record will be empty and details will be unavailable. If a person served in both world wars, for example, their WWI records might have been amalgamated with their WWII records. We have identified over 3000 cases where this occurred, and are working to link the information in Mapping our Anzacs with the relevant WWII records.
You can also save the link to that person’s details, or share it via the social bookmarking sites Digg and Delicious.
Add to the scrapbook
Having found a service person of interest, you can add your own note or photograph to our digital scrapbook. This is where you can share your information and enrich the archival account. Do you have a photograph of a service person? What does their war service mean to you?
Build a tribute
A third way to use Mapping our Anzacs is to build your own tribute to a group of service personnel. They may be from your town; they may be your ancestors; or they may be a combination. To build your online tribute, select people individually by family name, or select a set of people by their association with a town. Then name the page and add a description. Save the location and you can link to it from your own website or simply share the address.
Again, to create a tribute, you’ll need to be registered and logged in. If we like it, it may appear in the list of featured tributes on the home page of Mapping our Anzacs.
At this stage, it is not possible to edit a tribute you have created. We may be able to add further functionality in future. But for now, we are relying on you to take care as you build your tribute – once you push the ‘Save’ button, it is fixed.
Before you can add to the scrapbook or create a tribute, you need to register a username and email address with us. We need you to register so that we can identify who has created each scrapbook entry and each tribute. Our content policy is simple: we publish content if it meets the following conditions:
- It is relevant.
- It is respectful.
- The file size (of a photograph) does not exceed 200kb.
In 2007 the National Archives released A Gift to the Nation – online copies of all the records in series B2455. These are records of men and women who served in World War I in the:
- Australian Imperial Force
- Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force – the combined force despatched in August 1914 to neutralise German New Guinea
- Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train – formed to assist the landing of men and equipment from RAN vessels
- Australian Flying Corps – predecessor of the Royal Australian Air Force
- Australian Army Nursing Service
- depot units – personnel who did not go overseas but instead served in Australia
They also include records of official artists, photographers and CEW Bean, the official historian.
Records in B2455 form the foundation for Mapping our Anzacs. When a person enlisted to serve in World War I, they usually provided a place of birth and a place of enlistment on their attestation form, along with next of kin and so on.
The idea behind Mapping our Anzacs is to use that place-based information to provide a new pathway to the records. We thought that a spatial pathway into World War I service records would make sense for local communities where, in many cases, a World War I memorial is central to the town and the community.
In our main collection database, RecordSearch, the title field for each service record contains a lot of information: the person’s name, their service number (if any – or that they were a nurse or chaplain), place of birth, place of enlistment and next of kin.
To create Mapping our Anzacs, and enable a new form of access to these records, we needed to separate the information in the title of each record. It is the place-based information in each record title that gives the records a structure. We have attempted to map each place name to a global position, so you can now find records by browsing the maps rather than by searching. You no longer need to know in advance what you are looking for, and you can see relationships between records, rather than seeing each one in isolation.
Processing the data involved a lot of work and, in some cases, there is more work to do. In many cases a single place was described in various ways. We have names for places that may no longer exist that have not yet been identified – see the list of unknown or unprocessed places. And since the data was transcribed from the handwritten attestation form, there were inevitable errors of transcription and typing. We have corrected many, but if you notice more, please let us know.
You may also notice some differences between the data in Mapping our Anzacs and the National Archives collection database, RecordSearch. While RecordSearch file titles reflect the information as it was originally recorded, we have standardised place names to enable them to be easily found and mapped.
The numbers of people born and enlisted in each place derive from the data in the record series B2455 – read more about the numbers.
Mapping our Anzacs was created in conjunction with the exhibition Shell-shocked: Australia after Armistice with the support of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Mapping our Anzacs was developed in-house by the National Archives web team. The map interface was created using the Google maps API and the Google geocoding service . We are particularly grateful for the work of Martin Pearman, whose ClusterMarker script made it possible for us to manage and display the many thousands of places where Australian service people were born. The digital scrapbook uses the Tumblr micro-blogging service.