The Beyond 1914 (The University of Sydney and The Great War) website provides an interactive, searchable database of biographic information about members of the University community involved in the First World War, based on the extensive archives and personal papers of the University of Sydney and its Colleges. A large part of this information was provided to the University between 1915 and 1938 by more than 2000 former staff, students, graduates and their families (later published in the University’s Book of Remembrance).
The Beyond 1914 online database was developed by David Jessup, Gregory Poole and Nick Evans from the University of Sydney’s Marketing department, and was launched in September 2014.
The original project for the University of Sydney has now been expanded to six campuses as ARC-funded Expert Nation databases for research into life histories, as well as the production of websites for each participating university.
Website: approx. 6 person-months; database: < 2 months.
The database underpinning Beyond 1914 is a Heurist database which provides the back-end infrastructure for data management and biographical research. The Beyond 1914 site provides the public interface to the information in the Heurist database.
The Heurist team populated the Heurist database with more than 10,000 life events extracted from the Book of Remembrance text. These events were linked to the individuals concerned, educational institutions and geographical locations to allow the creation of personal lifelines and broader timelines and maps. About 27,000 scanned photographs and documents, held in the University Archives, were also loaded and linked to individuals.
The highly customised website was built as a separate application which harvests the Heurist database nightly from an XML feed; the Heurist XML feed is converted via Doctrine to a NoSQL database which drives the website.
The Heurist database will form an ongoing resource for the collection of further information, with plans to eventually allow direct public input, with editorial control, and public access to the wider range of analytical possibilities available through Heurist.