Doing our bit: Build-a-thon working bee at Mosman Library for Great War project
When Frank Morris and Frank Cluett returned to Mosman from the Great War, they rigged up a motor bike and side car which one would drive, the other steer. Why? Gallipoli and Passchendaele had left one blind, the other paralysed from the waist down.
A volunteer team formed recently at Mosman Library to begin work on a web-based project to tell the stories of Mosman’s experience in the Great War.
At a Build-a-thon on Saturday 11 August, led by historian and digital humanities pioneer Dr Tim Sherratt, professionals from museums, archives and libraries joined residents and librarians to explore digital tools and interfaces for storytelling.
In his history of Mosman, Gavin Souter called the two Franks “a sort of living war memorial” and Dr Sherratt challenged the participants to think of new ways to coax these stories from the records.
Some of the small group projects on the day included:
- finding and recording names from local honour rolls to help identify service people and their sporting, religious and other affiliations;
- defining event based views of service records to allow an individual’s experience of the war to be seen in the wider context of brigades, battles and geography;
- looking at wartime diaries of Mosman soldiers and thinking how these might be transcribed and presented online;
- exploring the social context through art history using online resources like Design and Art Australia Online and the Dictionary of Sydney; and
- discussing how the project might involve children with their school’s WWI history, through supporting students as data collectors and providing materials for teachers.
The busy and productive hack day, the first hosted by Mosman Council, ran 10am-4pm and included a working lunch. Local Studies Librarian Donna Braye said the volunteers “felt a real sense of ownership” of the project. New materials have already been added to the collection.
Next month Mosman Library hosts a genealogy workshop that will help you trace the Anzacs amongst your ancestors and on Wednesday 19 September, historian and author Dr Kirsty Harris will tell the little known story of our military nurses.
Residents with photos, letters and other memorabilia related to Mosman’s WWI history are encouraged to come along to the local history roadshow on Saturday 10 November. Professional digitisation services will be on hand at the Open Day & Scan-a-thon at Mosman Library.