Skip to Main Content

WWI Primary Resource Guide: Home

This guide aims to highlight a range of key primary resources relevant to the British experience of WWI.

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers at the University of Oxford who are interested in the history of World War I. Students and researchers from related fields may find it useful.

The guide primarily focuses on free web resources covering Britain and WWI. Use this guide to locate these locate these.

About this LibGuide


Black and white photo of poppies which are in bright red


From Flickr: [Duncan] Colour Popped Poppies

2014 marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. This LibGuide aims to highlight key primary resources centred on the British experience of the war, all of which are available to students researching this area. Among those listed, you will find resources available locally, many of which are held within the Bodleian collections.

The resources featured, both printed and electronic, are organised thematically. Within each tab you will find dropdown menus which provide information on specific topics. Multiple source types are covered, including: newspapers, diaries and journals, literature, music, posters, cartoons, maps, official papers and government reports.

Warning: We aim to keep this LibGuide as up-to-date as possible. The nature of the funding for some of these projects, however, means that websites may be taken down without notice resulting in broken links.



Researching WWI

Responses to World War One have evolved markedly over the past 100 years. Since 1914 and the outbreak of war, thousands of books, novels and films have been dedicated to it, with the current resurgence likely to continue for the next five or so years. In the 1920s writers and scholars chiefly focused on the question of causality and responsibility. In turn, the conduct of military operations began to be discussed in greater depth - often because these topics were of particular interest for those who had been directly involved. However, a gradual change took place, with a broad move away from military history towards an approach that placed human beings at its centre. Most recently, a number of historians have shifted personalities off the centre stage of the war’s history and have focused instead on representations of the war as viewed through the prism of wartime culture.

There is undoubtedly much to be learned from the shifting historiography of WWI, which continues to shed light on new areas whilst simultaneously asking questions of the research which has preceded it. It is hoped that this guide may help to locate resources which will enable you to develop your own thoughts on WWI, thereby assessing former approaches, evaluating recent developments, and determining where further research might prove interesting. There are vast quantities of resources available to students interested in this area, and it will certainly not be possible to outline the bulk of them. However, it is hoped that this LibGuide will help point researchers in the right direction, towards key libraries, archives and databases. From newspapers to cartoons, official papers to musical scores, multiple resource types are accessible. Moreover, an increasing volume of these are being digitised, thereby providing even greater potential for studying the history of WWI.

Oxford World War I Centenary Programme

The Oxford World War I Centenary Programme has been established to facilitate the exchange of information on local activities commemorating WWI. The programme has been set up by Bodleian Libraries and University of Oxford IT Services, who are both involved in large centenary projects. Future events and exhibitions are listed, whilst blog posts are also added regularly:

Loading ...

News from the Centenary Partnership

The Imperial War Museum is leading the First World War Centenary Partnership, a network of local, national and international cultural and educational organisations collaborating in order to promote greater understanding of the conflict. Together, through a global programme of events and activities, and online resources, the Partnership aims to connect current and future generations with the lives and stories of the First World War. Please see below for their newsfeed.


This LibGuide was created by Lyn Jones, the Bodleian History Faculty Library Graduate Trainee from 2013-14, as her project for the year.

Many thanks go to her hard work.


Profile Photo
Isabel Holowaty
Upper Reading Room, Room 2.03 (North / History end)
Bodleian Library, Broad Street
Oxford, OX1 3BG
01865 2-77294
Website Skype Contact: iholowaty
Subjects: History - British

Looking for books, journals, databases and more, held in Oxford libraries? 

Search Oxford Libraries Online (SOLO)

Looking for early modern and modern archives held in the Bodleian Libraries?

Search Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts

Suggested readings