The digital collection Three Pilots – One War is the fruit of a partnership between the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr (Berlin-Gatow), the Royal Air Force Museum (London) and the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace in Le Bourget. You can follow the First World War through the letters of three pilots, the Frenchman Jean Chaput, the Englishman Bernard Rice – who had served earlier as a messenger – and the German Peter Falkenstein. The letters are published here in day-to-day order exactly 100 years after they were written. Historical comments accompany each letter. The three museums will organize exhibitions between 2014 and 2019 to highlight aspects of the aircraft warfare during the First World War. You can view this collection in English, French and German.
The virtual presentation ECPAD: Première guerre mondiale is part of the ECPAD portal, the website of the Établissement de Communication et de Production Audiovisuelle de la Défense in Ivry-sur-Seine, the communication branch of the French defense ministry. At its portal ECPAD presents a selection of videos and photographs from its vast collection of First World War items, some 110,000 photographs (97,000 of them in the series SPA) and 2,000 films (series 14.18) which all have been digitized for the centenary of the Grande Guerre. One can consult the digitized items at the mediathèque in the old fortress Fort d’Ivry or order digitized images. ECPAD offers a very brief overview of its original audivisual collection created between 1915 and 1915, a general overview of materials from private collections concerning the Grande Guerre (PDF), and also succinct overviews of their First World War materials for a number of countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, and a set of fiches for each French département.
The online selection touches upon many themes in a wide variety of resources, among them for example coloured photographs (autochromes, 25 images in the selection, mainly to be found in the AUL series) and some 20,000 stereoscopic images (photographies stéréoscopiques, series D2 and D198), images of Russian soldiers in France, of prisoners of war, of the first American soldiers arriving in 1918, exercising army units, and much more. Only seven stereoscopic images are available online (animated versions).
There are only a few digital collections with French autochromes from the First World War. The main other collection is at the Mediathèque de l ‘Architecture et du Patrimoine, discussed also here. Parts of both collections appear also elsewhere. A third major collection is held at the Musée départemental Albert Kahn in Boulogne-Billancourt. The virtual exhibition of this museum is described here. At Arago-Le Portail de la Photographie you find more about several early techniques for colour photographs.
The virtual exhibition Primera Guerra Mundial is a project of the Casa de la Imaginem, an audiovisual archive in Logroño, Spain. At their website the Casa shows some thirty photographs taken by an unidentified French officer during the First World War near Ypres, elsewhere in Flanders, at Arras and at the Somme. They form part of a collection with some 500 stereoscopic photographs discovered in 1999 in Tanger. Alas the virtual exhibition shows of each stereoscopic set just one image, but luckily you can view a four minutes video with some of these images at Vimeo. In 2007 an exhibition was held to show these images after restoration; you can download a dossier about it in French or Spanish.
At the French centenary portal Mission Centenaire you can view thirty photographs from the collection at Logroño with full information about the locations shown, again without animated stereoscopic images. There is a link to a fourteen-minute video at Vimeo showing a selection of images, accompanied by music.
The virtual exhibition Max Gehlsen has been created by the Archives Départementales du Pas-de-Calais in Dainville and Arras. Some 200 watercolours made by the German artist Max Gehlsen (1881-1930) were donated in 2009 by a grand child of Gehlsen to the regional archives at Dainville [AD Pas-de-Calais, Archives iconographiques, sous-série 47]. As a soldier Gehlsen served mainly at the Oise front. His drawings were made in the Oise region, near the Somme, in Flanders and in the most northern départements of France, in particular the Pas-de-Calais. After a gas attack in 1917 Gehlsen was hospitalised and sent back to Germany. The collection contains some drawings made in Hamburg, Altona and Nuremberg. You can choose images at random or choose a particular year, location or theme. The website offers a bibliography on art during the First World War. This virtual exhibition can be viewed in French, English, German and Dutch.
The digital collection André Jeunet Collection – A French soldier in World War I has been created by the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. André Jeunet was a French soldier who fought at the front in France, in particular near the Somme and at Verdun, and later also on the Balkan, in particular in Macedonia and near Monastir (Albania). The collection consists of 210 photographs, some postcards, and transcripts of some letters translated into English. Some letters from 1917 contained strong pacifist views. The letters were intercepted by censors and brought Jeunet before a court-martial, which decided to transfer him to the Balkan. You can browse the entire collection, use the free text search mode or use the advanced search mode.
The portal Mémoires de la Somme – Archives en ligne: Grande Guerre brings you to the joined digital collections concerning the First World War of the Archives départementales de la Somme in Amiens and the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne. A section of the portal is dedicated to documents related to the First World War. You can enter a free text search using the recherche simple, and you can use the recherche avancée, an advanced search with multiple fields to look for all kind of documents. The archives portal has also separate search interfaces for civil registration records (État civil), census and recruiting records (censements), images, maps (plans), diaries (témoignages), buildings (patrimoine), books, newspapers and magazines (livres et presse). An online research guide, Rechercher dans les documents de la Grande Guerre (PDF), contains useful information about the 2,700 digitized photographs of soldiers and their daily life, 630 images of memorials in the Somme region, 75 documents on the reconstruction of the region after 1918, and two small photograph collections. Among the photographs are aerial photographs of the Somme front. The portal can only be viewed in French
The digital collection Fonts d’imatges de la Primera Guerra Mundial is a small image collection kept at the Ateneu Barcolonès in Barcelona. The collection contains 114 photographs showing the Somme and Verdun fronts, and also images taken in Serbia and Macedonia. This digital collection is a part of the portal Memória Digital de Catalunya. The website can be viewed in Catalan, Castilian and English.
The website Chemins de mémoire de la Grande Guerre en Nord-Pas de Calais invites visitors to a virtual tour of places and roads in Northern France, in particular nord of the Somme river. Many aspects of the First World War in this region are treated on this website, including the reconstruction of the region after 1918 and the way La Grande Guerre is remembered. The website is accessible in four languages.
The Historial de la Grande Guerre-Musée de la Première Guerre Mondiale 1914-1918 is a French museum in Péronne, not far from the actual main battle fields in northern France. The museum has its own collection of historical artefacts. Thematic collections are devoted to art, postcards, posters, children, toys and puppets. The Historial has a special collection about the German painter Otto Dix. The Historial is also an international study centre. The website includes a digital version of the maps and illustrations accompanying the Encyclopédie de la Grande Guerre by Stéphane Audouin-Rouzeau and Jean-Jacques Becker (2006, 2012). The museum has a blog, Histoire(s) de 14-18, at the Hypotheses platform.