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Launched in advance of next year’s 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, Trench Journals is an extraordinary collection of rare and previously inaccessible magazines that were written by – and for – servicemen and women during the First World War.

Each journal is a reflection of its unit The magazines contain poems, sketches, short stories, jokes, plays and articles contributed mostly anonymously by servicemen, and the pieces serve to create an invaluable insight into the attitudes of servicemen and women to the war and their part in it.

Indispensable for the researcher working on any aspect of literature or history of the First World War, but also essential for:

-- Examining the civilian’s views at a time of war: While the majority of these publications represent military units, a sizeable portion of the collection is made up of civilian magazines of societies or organizations that dealt closely with an aspect of the war (e.g. The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, The National Federation of Disabled Soldiers and Sailors)

-- Research in women’s studies: Women found an unprecedented level of autonomy and freedom as a result of the war. Women worked in the traditional roles of nursing and caregiving, but, with so many men in the armed forces, women also worked as bus and ambulance drivers and mechanics, in munitions factories, agricultural laborers, and in the new women's branches of the armed forces. The changing role of women, their hopes and, sometimes fears, of what the end of war would bring can be explored in their publications.

-- Research in contemporary culture: Everything from reviews of films shown in training camps, to essays on agriculture in prisoner of war camp magazines, to advertisements for trench coats, boots, and food hampers appear in officer cadet journals. Virtually every aspect of contemporary culture is touched upon by the Trench Journals.

-- History of medicine, care-giving and the welfare of veterans: Post-demobilization or discharge issues can be explored in the numerous magazines of hospitals, convalescent homes and societies and charities.

-- Genealogy/personal and local history: Clearly found in the magazines of home-based units. There, writing about their immediate environment, conditions and prospects, the servicemen and women give a view of the war long lost or overlooked in large-scale histories.

The vast majority of this collection is unique, and not available in digital or print form elsewhere One of ProQuest’s core strengths is providing rare archival periodical content - and Trench Journals is no exception. Specialized article- and publication-level indexing, combined with searchable full text, allow for simple expert and novice searching as well.

There’s much more we could say, but we’ll let the latest video posted to ProQuest’s YouTube channel speak for itself.

17 Oct 2013 | Posted by Shannon Janeczek

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