‘The Everyday War’ website, launched in May 2017, is a feature project of eMelbourne (the online Encyclopedia of Melbourne). As a contribution to the historical commemorations around the centenary of World War I, the intention of the web feature is to provide primary research materials and related context about the experience of the war on the home front.
The key archive is the City of Melbourne’s Town Clerk’s Correspondence files (VPRS 3183) from the Public Record Office Victoria. There are 111 boxes that cover the period from the early days of conflict in late July 1914 until 18 January 1919, two months after its end. The Town Clerk’s Department filed around 8000 such files every year and, for the purposes of this project, each was examined for any mentions of the war. Overall we identified over 660 individual files (containing from two to hundreds of pages) in these boxes, and we digitised almost 5500 individual pages. The files can be browsed on the website by year or by theme to enable users to discover the rich array of material in the collection and to provide a valuable resource for students, researchers and members of the public.
The feature was curated by Professor Andrew J. May and Nicole Davis, with research assistance from Nick Coyne. Financial support was provided by the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies and the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne, with in-kind support from Public Record Office Victoria. Thanks to: Helen Morgan (eScholarship Research Centre), Daniel Wilksch (Public Record Office Victoria) and John Lycette (Lycette Bros.)
As well as the web feature, other project outcomes include Nicholas Coyne’s history honours thesis, ‘The performance of war: experiences in the City of Melbourne 1914-1918’ (2015); and Nicole Davis, Nicholas Coyne and Andrew J. May, ‘World War I on the Home Front: the City of Melbourne 1914-1918’, Provenance: The Journal of Public Record Office Victoria, 2016-2017.
The project also complements two other projects that explore the experience of World War 1 on the home front.
Melbourne and Birmingham (England) were very similar sized cities of Empire whose populations were vastly separated in distance, but in intimate political and cultural alliance through the Great War. The Voices of War and Peace: the Great War and its Legacy project, led by Professor Ian Grosvenor at the University of Birmingham, provides a web-based resource on the experience of the war on the home front, and covers themes including: belief and the Great War; childhood; cities at war; commemoration; gender and the home front; peace and conflict.
The experience of the War on the home front in regional Victoria is explored in a WW1 Resource Kit developed by Dr Michele Matthews at the Bendigo Regional Archives Centre. Digitised records from municipal correspondence files reveal a range of responses to issues including: school children’s contributions to patriotic and War Savings funds’ collections; the formation and activities of local voluntary fundraising groups; enlistment figures; plans for closer land settlement for returned soldiers, in the Bendigo and district area; the plans to construct the Soldiers’ War Memorial in Pall Mall.