Paper to pixels, partnership digitises 95,000 First World War records

Tuesday, 18 April 2023

National Archives of Australia and Ancestry.com have collaborated to digitise 95,000 First World War records, preserving them for the future.

The project digitised series MT1486/1, which consists of records for individuals who applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), and were either rejected, discharged while still in training, or went on to serve within Australia only. 

Rebecca Britt, National Archives Director of Digitisation Services said the partnership allowed for a sharing of knowledge and resources to ensure records were digitised to a world-class standard.

‘We welcomed Ancestry.com staff to our East Burwood, Victoria repository to support the project, and alongside National Archives staff, the Ancestry.com team digitised the records. This meant that the records never left the repository, ensuring security and best practice for the project.’

Jason Reeve, Head of Content and Community at Ancestry.com said the project has helped ensure this important collection is accessible for future generations.

‘Ancestry is honoured to partner with National Archives of Australia to digitise this significant collection. By ensuring that these important stories are accessible and digitally preserved for generations to come, we can contribute to the commemoration and safeguarding of this crucial chapter of Australia’s military history,’ he said.

National Archives Senior Curator Anne-Marie Condé explained the importance of these records being available digitally.

‘These records help to throw light on a significant cohort of people who attempted to enlist but were rejected. This part of the First World War story has so often been overlooked,’ she said. 

‘The most common reason for rejection was on medical grounds, but there were all kinds of reasons a person could be rejected, and together they offer compelling insights into the beliefs and world-views of the day.’ 

Series MT1486/1 is a high-use series and it now joins more than 376,000 First Australian Imperial Force service records which have already been fully digitised. 

All records are accessible to the public via RecordSearch and through the Ancestry.com family history platform. 

View the series on RecordSearch.  

Interviews available upon request.

Contact information

National Archives of Australia Media Team
Phone: 0417 247 157
Email: media@naa.gov.au

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