Nov 092012

In 2014 we will be commemorating the centenary of the First World War. This event will  generate new interest in historic material relating to such a significant part of our history. JISC has funded work to explore what teachers and researchers will require so they can reinterpret this huge event from a 21st Century perspective. You can read more in a new report called Digital Content for the First World War which was undertaken by King’s College, London and makes recommendations about how valuable resources can be made digitally accessible.

JISC MediaHub provides access to many collections containing First World War material. Our previous ‘War Horse’ blog post focused on the important role horses played on the battlefront. In this blog post we are looking at how the war affected the everyday lives of ordinary people.

Are You In This? : IWM (images) c.1916

Hard times followed the onset of WWI and the government wanted to show the British people how they could contribute to the war effort. Food shortages became more common and rationing was eventually introduced.

Yes – Complete Victory if You Eat Less Bread : IWM (images) c.1916

The IWM (images) Collection contains a large number of propaganda posters distributed by the government to encourage the general public to save food; amongst many other initiatives.

Piling up Rations in the Rations Shed: This item is from The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, University of Oxford (


The role of women began to change as men  departed for the War in their tens of thousands .  Many volunteered to serve as nurses at the Front and we are starting to learn more about their individual stories following the release of new material from the National Archives.

The Scottish Women’s Hospital : In The Cloister of the Abbaye at Royaumont. Dr. Frances Ivens inspecting a French patient. Imperial War Museum (images)


Many more women came forward to take over industrial and agricultural jobs which helped keep the economy running. This interesting clip from Gaumont Graphic Newsreel shows a ‘ Women Workers Procession’ in London which was held by the Women’s Social and Political Union to recruit women into  munitions work. Mrs Pankhurst and Lloyd George were key to the organisation of this event.

Women Workers Procession: Gaumont Graphic Newsreel 27-07-1916

The  Great War left its mark on almost every community in the land. Even those living in the far corners of Britain found their lives were changed irrevocably by events played out far from home. The North Highland College Johnston Collection  gives us a unique insight into social change happening around Wick; a coastal town in the top North East corner of Scotland.

Parade after Church Service on Outbreak of the Great War : North Highland College (Johnston Collection) c. 1915

This parade was probably part of a recruiting march taking place throughout the county for one of the Seaforth battallions.

Meanwhile the everyday business of the town had to carry on:

Group photo of Lipton’s staff in Wick, standing outside the shop : North Highland College (Johnston Collection) c.1915

and despite the gravity of the war situation there were still opportunities to have some fun……

Painter and decorator apprentice finishing his time (Brothering) in Market Square :
North Highland College (Johnston Collection) c.1915

Among the treasures of this collection are many studio photographs of men who were about to join the fighting. These photographs would become precious mementoes as families faced an uncertain future. Here a soldier holds his young daughter in a surprisingly informal shot; we can only begin to wonder what their thoughts would have been at such a time.

A Portrait of Mr Clyne and his Daughter – December 1915 : North Highland College (Johnston Collection)


Further Links:


  2 Responses to “Digital Content for the First World War on JISC MediaHub”

  1. Nice article Catherine.

    Nice WW1 Christmas Truce song

  2. Thanks for the lovely comment! Thanks also for the link to the WWI Christmas Truce song.

    – Nicola, JISC MediaHub Team

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