Website documents world wars

A website launched by Western University and King’s University College is believed to be the first to document popular culture artifacts and ephemera from the First and Second World Wars., led by Western professor Jonathan Vance and King’s professor Graham Broad, explores life during the World Wars through items that were never intended to be preserved.

The site features nostalgic material covering all aspects of the frontline and home-front military experience, including training manuals, photo albums, posters, advertisements and greeting cards, which cover a wide variety of topics including wartime diet, leisure activities, and the many ways of supporting the troops overseas.

“We see this site being useful and of interest to history buffs, students, journalists, researchers and teachers,” said Broad. “We have gone so far as to design lesson plans to assist teachers in using the pieces found on the site.”

The bilingual site is a window into the Canadian experience during the World Wars and currently includes more than 600 pieces, carefully scanned and organized into categories. The team has plans to include a further 3,000 items currently being catalogued. Donations or loans of pieces from the community are encouraged.

“This is a way for people to see the wars in a different way, through the kind of things that Canadians encountered on a daily basis — from the bubble gum cards that children collected, to the programs for fund-raising concerts,” said Vance.

The project received support from partner institutions the University of New Brunswick, University of Ottawa and Wilfrid Laurier University, and funding from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council.