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World War I and Australia


While the men were fighting overseas women were expected to keep things going at home.

Women were also actively encouraged to support the war effort by joining voluntary organisations to raise money for the war and to provide comforts for the troops.

These organisations include the Australian Red Cross, Citizens' War Chest, Voluntary Aid Detachments, Australian Comforts Fund and the Cheer-up Society.

We have a number of the papers from these organisations, along with personal papers of individuals who were involved with the organisations.

Voluntary Aid Detachments, Double Bay, 1915
Digital order number: a7873017


"'A souvenir of today at Cudgewa 25.10.16.' It looks something like a Red Cross meeting, but it's just the normal state of patriotic girls during the Great War." Cudgewa, Victoria
Digital order number: bcp_00874

Loans and bonds

War loan programs were set up by the Commonwealth and State governments to encourage Australians to support the war effort by purchasing government war bonds which would be repaid with interest. Posters promoting the programs combined patriotism with notions of responsibility to encourage Australians to financially support the war.

War loan bonds poster
Digital order number: a8730003

After the war, the government launched 'Peace Loan' campaigns to recover the cost of the war and to fund soldier pensions. Peace loans were similar to war loans where people lent money to the government and received interest.

Peace bonds poster
Digital order number: a8730001

We have digitised a range of posters in our collection that were produced throughout the war to promote the war and peace loans programs.

Search our catalogue to find more posters promoting the programs using the subject: World War, 1914-1918 -- Finance -- Australia -- Posters.

Knit one purl one

All over Australia individuals and organisations played their part in supporting the war by knitting everything from socks to balaclavas as comforts for the troops. These were sent along with other practical items such as soap, handkerchiefs and notebooks.

Amongst our collections relating to World War I is a knitting pattern for the grey sock, to be made and sent to soldiers at the front. The pattern came to us with the papers, photographs and objects of Irene Victoria Read, a community and charity worker, who first became involved with the Australian Comforts Fund in 1915. She joined her husband in Cairo where he was a doctor with the No. 2 Australian General Hospital and was shocked by the lack of facilities for the men. She lobbied the Australian Comforts Fund to send supplies for their needs. She returned home later in the same year and became involved with the work of the Fund.

"War Chest" Sock Appeal, May 1917 : 3 photos of workers handling goods by G. A. Hills
Digital order number: a6136001

Small instruction book for knitting soldiers socks (The Grey Sock : Soldiers' Sock Fund) in World War I, ca. 1915.
Digital order number: a6086029


Internment camp

In the interests of national security thousands of men, women and children were interned in camps during World War I.

Learn more about internment camps.

Sydney Mail

We have digitised all the front pages from the Sydney Mail for the period of the War.

You can view the front pages in the Library's catalogue or on our Pinterest board.

Digital order number: a9609005

Fundraising for the war

Fundraising took many forms including this fancy dress patriotic football match held at Bega

Digital order number: bcp_02074

"Special Effort - 2 tons of jam made by the Cobar Ladies Jam Club"

Digital order number: bcp_05694

Finding ephemera

Our World War I ephemera collections includes pamphlets, leaflets, concert programs about Australian participation including Red Cross services, memorial services, fund raising efforts and ANZAC Day commemorations.


Ephemera on World War 1 relating to Australian participation : Comforts funds.

Digital order number: a5940037

Searching for sheet music

Search our catalogue to find sheet music that was produced during the war using the subject term:

World War, 1914-1918 -- Songs And Music.


Our Tommy (from the land of the kangaroo)

an4787656 – National Library of Australia


Mrs Marson, Miss Nelly Kelly and Mrs Eileen Pettet spinning wool to knit socks for soldiers at Tenterfield, NSW

Digital order number: bcp_06822

Copying, publishing or purchasing digital copies

You can make copies of pictures for research and study purposes by:

  • using a digital camera
  • using our microfilm reader printers 
  • ordering paper or electronic copies
  • ordering high quality digital scans
  • purchasing microfilm  

You need to contact us for permission to publish our original materials. You must also acknowledge the Library and provide the correct location details. 

Find out more about copying, purchasing digital copies and publishing.