World War One (daily life)

Where can I find information about daily life during World War One?

Entry last updated: 08/04/19

Introduction

World War One, also known as the First World War or the Great War, lasted from 1914 until 1918. During these four years, daily life changed for everyone involved with the war. This entry will show you how to find information about daily life for soldiers and nurses who went to war, and about the people who stayed at home.

Daily life for soldiers and nurses

The following websites have information about the daily life of the soldiers and nurses involved in World War One.

NZHistory

NZHistory is a fantastic website for information about New Zealanders and World War One.

  • From the homepage, select New Zealand at War, then have a look at the different links under the First World War heading.
  • For information about life for soldiers in the trenches, select Western Front, then Life in the Trenches.
  • To find out about soldiers experiences in Gallipoli, select Gallipoli and the Balkans, then The Gallipoli campaign, then look at page 7: Soldiers' experience.
  • For information about Māori soldiers and Pasifika soldiers, select New Zealand Goes To War then Māori in the NZEF (New Zealand Expeditionary Force) also, Pacific Islands in the NZEF.

For information about nurses, and other people in the medical units, follow this pathway:

  1. From the homepage select New Zealand at War.
  2. Then look for the First World War heading and select the link to NZEF Units.
  3. Next find Medical Units.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  1. From the homepage select Government and Nation.
  2. Choose War and Defense.
  3. Go to First World War.
  4. Have a look at the information for Gallipoli and the war against Turkey for soldiers experiences there and compare it to experience in The Western Front 1916-1917, and The Western Front 1918.

WW100

Have a look at the WW100 website, set up to commemorate 100 years since World War One.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Daily life on 'the Home Front'

For the people who stayed at home, the war impacted their lives in many ways. Everyone had friends or family away at war, and everyone had to do their part for the war effort.

NZHistory

This site has a lot of information about what home in New Zealand was like during the First World War, including what it was like for children at school, and how people at home supported the war effort.

  • From the homepage, select New Zealand at War, then find the Home Front link which is under the First World War heading.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

This website also has useful information about what life was like for people who were at home during the war.

  1. From the homepage select Government and Nation.
  2. Then War and Defense.
  3. Next select First World War.
  4. Then look for page 6, Home Front 1916-1917.

National Library of New Zealand

The National Library of New Zealand has a collection of ephemera (like posters and advertisements used during the war) which can give you a picture of what daily life was like.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us

DigitalNZ

DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites. It’s an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once, and has lots of primary sources.

  • To find pictures of people living their lives during the war years, enter a keyword, such as 'children' into the search bar.
  • Select the images tab and then underneath it, choose date and pick 1910s and select Apply Filters.
Tips: Try other keywords such as 'nurses' or 'soldiers', or your hometown, and see what you find.

Books

There have been many books written about daily life in World War One - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some suggested titles are:

The home fronts in World War 1 by Nick Hunter.

New Zealand society at war by Steven Loveridge.

SCIS no: 1915711

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