The First World War and Family History
Canada's military history is perhaps the most heavily documented aspect of our common experience as a nation. Books and articles on the subject of Canada and war are published in ever increasing numbers, as is clearly shown by the extent of this bibliography. The First World War is no exception. For family historians and genealogists, published and unpublished information about the war and about those who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) is extraordinary.
For those researching a family member, one should begin with the CEF
records at Library and Archives Canada. In the ArchaviaNet
Soldiers of the First World War database, one can search the index of all
the men and women who joined the CEF.
For a selection of surnames, the actual attestation or enlistment papers are available
in digitized format. If the subject of the research died during the war, "The
Canadian Virtual War Memorial" www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=collections/
sponsored by Veterans Affairs Canada, is an invaluable source of information with
links to the Canadian "Books of Remembrance" and the records of the Commonwealth
War Graves Commission www.cwgc.org/debt_of_honour.asp?menuid=14.
Aside from archival records, researchers should also be aware of the vast number of regimental and unit histories that have been published in the past 80 years. Such histories not only provide the context of an individual's service, but may provide additional personal information about those serving with a particular unit. A large number of books have also been published on wartime honours and awards and these resources should not be overlooked for supplementary information about the service of an individual. Biographical information abounds: universities, colleges, churches and some businesses published collections of biographies, honour rolls and service rolls. These are listed in this bibliography.
Numerous books and studies have been published on the politics of the war, military operations, the war in the air and on the sea, on the home front and so on. For those seeking information about the impact of the war on individuals, there are any number of published diaries and collections of letters; increasingly, material of this nature is being collected and placed on the World Wide Web. Local newspapers from all across Canada, a large number of which are available at Library and Archives Canada, should not be overlooked when researching any aspect of the war or for information about individuals.
Material of particular interest to the family historian is listed below in the Web Research section and beginning with the Honour Rolls, Service Rolls and Registers of the Dead section, but material in many other sections will be of value. David Macfarlane's The Danger tree, listed in the Military Autobiography, Biography and Memoirs section is included as a fine example of a history of a Newfoundland family during the war.