WW2 People’s War is a site dedicated to capturing people's personal stories of World War Two in a lasting archive. Military or civilian, on the front-line or home front, every story plays a vital part in helping future generations understand the sacrifices made by a nation at war. Please note that WW2 People’s War is an internet-only project, which means that contributions made by letter or telephone cannot be accepted. However, there are now over 2,000 People’s War centres nationwide where you can find help getting your story online.
The People's War website is produced by the BBC and accompanies their large amount of historically-oriented content. Visitors can read stories submitted by others, or register and submit their own story. There is a research desk with starting points and guides to researching familiy history, and there are related discussion boards that are very active. Also featured are articles that outline the major activities of the War, and suggested activities for educational projects in addition to the thousands of personal stories.
The BBC People's War website was launched in November 2003 and will be collecting personal stories through November 2005, after which the materials will be archived as a resource and tribute. Sharing your story requires registering with the site, but you can contribute your story and communicate with the more than 10,000 contributors and registered users. The stories are edited and approved before they appear on the site, although only the author is held to the truthfulness of the submission.
The Research Desk provides articles about British regions, major events, and theatres of the war and links to the BBC History website that has thousands of maps, galleries, and articles. Guides to researching family history cover medals, badges, service records, and photos. The very active "Ask and answer" Research Desks are divided topically and are used by many as they are uncovering their own family history. In addition, the education section offers lesson plans and activites for school project, which revolve around interviewing individuals about their experience of the war.
The purpose and staffing of the site are clearly introduced, and the writing is rather informal. While there aren't simple URL's, the design and layout of the site is very straightforward and the discussion board and user pages. The resources of the BBC are apparent in this site, from the professional design, extensive interaction supported by the site, and the more than 200 "People's War Centres" throughout Britain to support the submission of digital materials. The site offers so much varied material, from the concise articles to the thousands of personal stories, that it is a necessary visit for anyone interested in the personal experiences of the British in World War II, on the frontline and the home front.
Center for History and New Media
April 29, 2005