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Do you have a missing piece of history from Imperial War Museums' 8 million World War I life stories?

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Imperial War Museums (IWM) is calling for the public to find the last ‘missing pieces’ and help complete 8 million Life Stories from the First World War – one for each of the men and women from Britain and the Commonwealth who served in uniform or on the home front during the conflict.

Throughout the centenary of the First World War, IWM has worked with the public to piece together the Life Stories of millions of men and women on its digital platform Lives of the First World War. More than 7.6 million stories have been added so far; from factory workers to the armed forces, and medics to conscientious objectors.
 
 
Lives of the First World War was launched in 2014, in partnership with Findmypast, to mark the beginning of the First World War Centenary. IWM now needs the public to help complete these records and to reach 8 million Life Stories before Armistice.
 
IWM is urging everyone to discover their First World War connections and remember and share these with the rest of the world online by adding more information, from attributing facts, scanning and uploading photographs through to researching a name on a local war memorial or by sharing family anecdotes.
 
Since its launch, over 2.3 million facts, anecdotes and images have been added to what is now a valuable educational and public resource, bringing to life personal stories from 100 years ago. More than 7,000 communities have also been created, remembering individuals who were part of the same family, workplace or sports team.
 
'Toil and sacrifice'
 
Charlotte Czyzyk, Public Engagement and Project Manager said: “The founding vision for IWM was that all those who contributed their ‘toil and sacrifice’ during the First World War would be represented in the museum. Now, in the digital age, that vision can be achieved through IWM’s flagship digital centenary project, Lives of the First World War. Our achievements to date have been remarkable and we could not have achieved this without the support and dedication of our members and the public. Now we need the public’s support once again to help us find the missing pieces of this gigantic puzzle, and reach our target of 8 million Life Stories by Armistice.”
 
There are stories of people and communities that are missing key pieces of information. Including:
 
  • Camberwell Air Raid Victims. This community commemorates the victims of the Zeppelin and Gotha air raids during the First World War. 21 of them are commemorated on the memorial inCamberwell Old Cemetery, London. The community has images for some people in this Community, but not all. Does your family have photos to upload?
  • The Women’s Land Army. There were around 23,000 members of the Women's Land Army in the First World War but very few records about them have survived. Do you have family memories, photos or other sources that could help tell this story?
  • The Chilwell National Shell Filling Factory explosion - 1 July 1918. The explosion killed 134 workers and injured 250, 5 of whom died later from their injuries. Like the Women’s Land Army, very few records have survived. Members of the public can help provide dates of birth and death, photos and facts about their lives.

Project plans

In 2019, the Life Stories will form a permanent digital memorial which will be saved for future generations. Lives of the First World War will remain live and active until 18 March 2019, when IWM will become the custodian of the millions of incredible public contributions that have been made over the past 5 years. These stories will remain free and accessible and by becoming part of IWMs’ powerful online collections, will help to shape our understanding of the First World War both now and in the future.

(image copyright James Petts)

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