A wiki for the First World War? International Encyclopedia of the Great War to launch online

By Richard Moss | 24 September 2014

An ambitious pan-European web project that embraces semantic web ideals and international perspectives on the First World War is about to be launched

a photo of a German soldier standing on a muddy street in a ruined village
A German soldier in the ruined village of Etricourt, Somme (December 1916)© Bundesarchiv, Bild 104-00608A
The world’s largest network of First World War experts is coming together for an ambitious new open access web project called the International Encyclopedia of the First World War, which will be published online on October 8 2014.  

Designed to become a collaborative wiki for the conflict, organisers from the Freie Universität Berlin say the “comprehensive” new English Language project will feature a wealth of new historical research on the First World War from a pan-European perspective.

The online encyclopedia has been funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and was written, compiled by 1,000 experts from 54 countries.

Describing the First World War Centenary as “an important point of reference for the creation of a transnational and global historical consciousness”, Freie Universität say the new website will be a way to “discuss the roots of and possibilities for European integration”.

The site's content integrates various political, economic, social, and cultural perspectives on the Great War and is divided into six subject areas: pre-war, violence, power, home front, media, and post-war.

It also covers “all major regions” of First World War historiography, incorporating hitherto neglected areas such as Southeast Europe and Africa.

Several international partners, including numerous German Universities, the Centre for War Studies at Birmingham University and institutions in Lisbon, Istanbul, Zurich and Dublin have worked on the project.

Wide-ranging international scholarly perspectives are promised, together with multimedia-enriched articles including photos and digitized primary sources,  combining international research expertise with an easy-to-use, link-rich and collaborative approach to the web.

In a year of countless web projects marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War, it may just prove to be the most ambitious.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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