The Australian and overseas printed collections at the National Library contain substantial material which can support research into the First World War. Use the online catalogue to find and retrieve material using your library card.

In addition to the general printed collections there are also some unique special collections.

Official histories of the First World War

Countries other than Australia produced their own official accounts of their participation in the First World War.  A useful summary can be found on the Great War 1914-1918 website. 

The National Library holds the following histories:

Great Britain:  History of the Great War based on official documents

This is a substantial work and includes sub series describing military operations, naval operations, air operations and medical history of the war.  Also included are numerous maps.

Canada: Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919

United States: United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919

New Zealand: Official history of New Zealand in the Great War (4 vols and 2 supplementary vols)

Although not held by the National Library the official histories of two of the other main participants are available online, either entire or in part:

France: Les Armées Françaises dans la Grande Guerre

Germany: Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918: Bearbeitet im Reichsarchiv

Germany's Western Front: translations from the German official history of the Great War is the first English translation of the German official history of the First World War and is held at the National Library.

In our Reference collection

You can find the following useful resources in our Main Reading Room.  No call slip is required.

Official history of Australia in the War of 1914-1918
The first published official record of Australia's involvement in the war by the official Australian War Historian, Charles Bean. 
Call number: RF 940.40994 O32. Also available online

The Oxford companion to Australian military history
A comprehensive guide with entries on key soldiers, politicians and writers, as well as information on major campaigns, weapons and themes.
Call number: RF 355.00994 O98-2

The encyclopaedia of Australia's battles
Lists chronologically all major battles fought by Australians overseas, including details of dates, locations, units and commanders involved.
Call number: RF 355.4794 C592

World War I databook: the essential facts and figures for all the combatants
A useful compilation of data covering all aspects of the war.
Call number: RFq 940.402 E47

Case Study

I am looking for Australian literature of the Great War.

We can use the Austlit Australian literature database which is available via our eResources portal.

  • In the Advanced search function, under ‘Subject’ choose World War I ~ Wars ~ War ~ Military
  • On the Results page under Genre select a type to narrow the results eg ‘childrens ’
  • Use the drop down menu 'Sort by relevance' to choose 'Sort by work date'. The oldest published item will appear first.

In addition, Austlit has an ongoing Research project, World War I in Australian Literary culture, which expands coverage of the way the 1914-1918 war has appeared in literature, film, and other forms of storytelling from the conflict's beginning to the present.

The Library also holds a great deal of Australian children’s literature from the First World War

The Source, available via our eResources portal is a database of children’s literature from Australia and New Zealand, compiled by Dr Kerry White, is a useful resource.  

  • From the Subject list select World War 1914 -1918

The Marcie Muir collection of Australian children's books contains many unique or rare items depicting the First World War in children's literature eg The young ANZACs.

A search of the Library catalogue under author’s name or subject heading also shows material we hold.  Suggested headings include:

For further information see the Australian Literature Research Guide.