In the week including Armistice Day 2013, French libraries, archives and museums are rallying their troops to help the general public share their memories and objects from the First World War. In over 70 locations, heritage professionals will record stories and digitise material brought in by the public, preserving family memories and artefacts in an archive that can be explored across the globe.
The extensive, nation-wide collection campaign is part of the French programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. It is recognized that the private documents and objects that will be digitised form an important complement to the material held in official collections, allowing researchers and others get a fuller picture of the First World War and the people that were involved and affected.
La Grande Collect will run from November 9 – 16th. The collected material will be added to the international Europeana 1914-1918 website where it can be explored and downloaded freely. The Europeana 1914-1918 collection already holds some 4,500 stories and 50,000 images collected at events across Europe or submitted online. National collection campaigns are running in Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Denmark, with a host of other countries in line to join the initiative. There are currently no plans to run a similar, national campaign in Britain but individuals can add their material to the archive via the website: http://europeana1914-1918.eu. Anyone interested in holding a local collection event is welcome to contact the Europeana 1914-1918 team at the University of Oxford (email@example.com) for advice and guidance.
More information about La Grande Collecte can be found on the project website: http://centenaire.org/fr/la-grande-collecte. To explore the collected material from France and elsewhere, visit http://europeana1914-1918.eu.