It was reading that the deadline for submissions to the Lives of the First World War project is fast approaching that spurred me on to at least make one New Year’s Resolution.
Launched in 2014, Lives of the First World War is a centenary project of the Imperial War Museum. Its aim is to capture facts and life stories of the 8 million plus men and women who were involved in that war with a view to preserving them as a permanent digital memorial which will be free to access. So far over 130,000 members of the public have contributed information with over 7 million ‘life stories’ added. But the deadline for submissions is 18 March this year, so time is running out.
My resolution is therefore to upload the war records of all those I have researched before the deadline.
Quite early on in the project I uploaded details of my Grandad Jack Wakefield and his brother William, but despite researching the war records of a number of other relatives I had not so far got round to contributing to their records on this site. So I made a list of those who were outstanding and decided that last Saturday I really would sit down and make a start.
I remembered finding the uploading a bit tricky before, so I read the instructions before attempting to do anything else (always a good plan!). Basically, having searched for and found the person you wish to commemorate, you then need to upload or create a link to ‘evidence’ about them before you can add facts. Though it feels a bit long-winded, I do appreciate that they need water-tight proof of the facts that are being claimed. You do need to create a free account before you can upload anything.
Finding the right person is a challenge in itself, but is greatly helped if you have the soldier’s regimental number to hand. I started with William Sayers, who I wrote about here in December. I discovered that I needed to put # in front of the service number. Once you have found the right person, it helps to click on the large ‘Remembering’ button near the top straight away. That way, the individual will be added to your ‘dashboard’ making it easy to go back and add more later.
Clicking on the ‘Evidence’ tab enables you to get started with adding information. I found myself mostly using the ‘Add External Reference’ button. With Ancestry open on another tab I was able to go to a previously found service record, medal index card or census return, copy the web link and paste that in together with other information about the evidence. You can also upload an image in this section (photo or scanned images of letters, for example).
Once you have uploaded the evidence you can then click on it to ‘Add facts from this evidence’. You now have to think carefully about what that particular piece of evidence really tells you. For example, a census image does not give a date of birth, but does indicate an age on a given date. Having added all the facts you can, you then might want to visit the ‘Add to Life Story’ tab and choose to ‘Share a story’. This is where you can write what you want of family anecdotes or research findings. You can write up to 5000 characters, but there is the option of adding another ‘story’ if that is not enough.
It did take me most of the morning to upload everything, but I feel that, for the chance to record these family details for posterity, it is worth it. Later that day I uploaded information for Frank Bookham, the husband of Grandad’s older sister Annie Wakefield. There are two more I particularly want to do: Edmund Greenhill and Bert Mitchell, both of whom I have blogged about previously, so I definitely need to schedule some time very soon to do them.
The weblink, if you would like to make your own submissions, is https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org. But don’t forget the deadline of 18 March.