Zooniverse: Operation War Diary

Zooniverse: Operation War Diary
A German prisoner helps British wounded make their way to a dressing station near Bernafay Wood following fighting on Bazentin Ridge, 19 July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. Image: Courtesy of Ernest Brooks, via the Imperial War Museums

August 1, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of Germany’s declaration of war on Russia. Germany would soon declare war against France and invade Belgium. The First World War had begun. British troops entered the fray after Germany invaded Belgium on August 4, 1914. [For more about the history of WWI, including archival articles, visit Scientific American Chronicles World War I.]
Zooniverse’s Operation War Diary project seeks to tell the story of the British Army on the Western Front during the First World War by transcribing 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries. Citizen scientists—in this case citizen historians—will work with scientists to make previously inaccessible information available to academics, researchers and family historians worldwide.
Data gathered through Operation War Diary will be used for three main purposes:
To enrich The National Archives' catalogue descriptions for the unit war diaries.
To provide evidence about the experience of named individuals in the Imperial War Museums’ “Lives of the First World War” project.
To present academics with large amounts of accurate data to help them gain a better understanding of how the war was fought.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Luke Smith, Digital Lead, First World War Centenary Program
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: Imperial War Museums
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Data Processing
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Go to the Operation War Diary home page and either sign in with your Zooniverse username and password, or sign up for one.

See more projects in FreeData ProcessingAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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