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WWI historical project will catalog eight million life stories

Museum asks for help in building massive memorial database

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The UK's Imperial War Museums has kicked off a massive social networking project that will seek to catalog the lives of more than 8 million people who served or were killed in The Great War.

The Lives of the First World War campaign is asking members of the public to contribute time, data, and historical artifacts to help construct a massive database from existing records and historical archives of those who served in the British and Commonwealth forces.

The archive is now comprised of 4.5 million men and 40,000 women, and has already launched based on full and partially available records. The project is asking the public to help further build out the database by providing their own family records and images to build new records, or to complete partial records on those who served in the war as well as those killed in the conflict between 1914 and 1918.

Those who do not have images or family records to contribute can still help in the project by manually filling out records. The IWM team has digitized a number of records from the war period which need to be entered into the catalog. In doing so, users can help to fill out partial or incomplete records of the dates of birth, service history, and deaths of those involved in The War to End All Wars.

"We need the public to help us piece together over 8 million life stories, so that we can remember these people now and in the future," said Luke Smith, digital lead for the IWM First World War Centenary.

"Everybody can contribute to Lives of the First World War, whether they choose to simply remember someone online, upload a picture from their family album, share a story passed down through generations, or connect official records to build a full and factual picture of what happened to that person throughout the war."

The archive is being built as part of a centenary memorial effort to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, which raged from 1914 to 1918 and is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of more than 886,000 in the British armed forces, according to the UK national archives.

Lives of the First World War from Imperial War Museums on Vimeo.

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