New Zealand: WW1 project seeks 'citizen historians'

An archive photo of Anzac soldiers from New Zealand on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Researchers hope the project will unearth stories about those who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac)

University researchers are asking the public for help in creating an online database of all the New Zealanders who served in the military during World War One.

Volunteers are being asked to sift through thousands of military records which have been posted online, and transcribe key pieces of information from the 100-year-old handwritten documents. The main aim of the project, called Measuring the Anzacs, is to analyse New Zealanders' health through the century by studying data such as height and weight. But the database will also help people with an interest in genealogy, and will detail thousands of soldiers' experiences during WW1, including whether they were decorated, injured or taken prisoner.

The military data is especially valuable because New Zealand's census records from the early 20th Century were usually destroyed after the government had made use of them, the project's website points out.

It's already an international effort, with researchers at New Zealand's University of Waikato working alongside colleagues at the University of Minnesota in the US. But they want the general public to lend a hand as well, even if it's only for a few minutes. "We have 140,000 personnel files... We've probably done 3,000 of those pages fully," Evan Roberts, an assistant professor of population studies, tells the Stuff.co.nz website. "If every New Zealander did one page right now, we'd have this done very soon."

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