Citizen Scientist on the Frontlines

By: Olivia Flores

Have you ever wondered what the day to day lives of soldiers battling with the horrors of World War I was like? There’s only so much Sandra Bullock’s “In Love and War” can teach you about the daily lives of soldiers. Discovering information about the people and activities behind winning the Great War opens up the world to admire their history and, for some, appreciate their ancestors.

WWI soldiers documented the record of operations through war diaries and intelligence summaries. Zooniverse allows people to transcribe these notes through a project called Operation War Diary. This operation contains documents from both British and Indian cavalry and infantry divisions on the Western Front. War diaries kept the official record of the war for future historians and for the military to later assess its’ tactics. Digitizing and cataloguing war diaries will help historians get detailed information about the activities of soldiers. And also help the Imperial War Museum’s mission to remember the lives of WWI Soldiers.

First, you first have to categorize the a page into either blank, cover, diary, orders, signal, report, or other. Once you classify the page, you have the opportunity to tag details such as date, time, unit activity, weather, etc. The citizen historians can choose from a variety of Infantry reports such as the 49 Infantry Brigade. The first page from this section contained a cover page citing the date of it (30 Sep 1916 – 29 Apr 1918). Citizen historians classify the reports for the benefit of not only the historian community, but for families who’ve had members fight in WWI.

The soldiers mentioned in these war diaries have families who can now get a better picture of what their relatives sacrificed and faced in war. Transcribing the soldier’s war diaries allows their lives to educate us.

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