Published Date

January 1, 2019

Resource Type

For the Classroom



AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning


Asia, Europe

This resource is part of the AHA’s Teaching with #DigHist series.


In this assignment, Susan Corbesero (The Ellis School) discusses using the crowdsourcing project, Operation War Diary, to help students learn about the First World War. The project contains over one million digitized images of war diaries from British and Indian troops.


The Project

Before Class

  1. Go to Zooniverse and register for an account.
  2. Once you are registered, search for and sign in to the Operation War Diary (OWD) project.
  3. Start and complete the 10-minute tutorial. (Note: You can always restart the tutorial, available under the Field Guide tab.)
  4. You are now ready to become a citizen-historian and start tagging!

In Class

  1. Work on 6-8 war diary pages. As you tag the pages (for dates, location, people, activity, etc.) please keep a careful record in the graphic organizer provided. Be sure that you also provide a screen capture for your pages.
  2. Please consult the printed or online Field Guide with any questions you have about the military information in the pages.
  3. You may work with each other to decipher handwriting or to ask questions. I will also be on hand to help answer questions, provide clarification, and add historical context.

Written Assignment

After tagging and reading your Operation War Diary pages, submit a historically informed reflection (a minimum of 400 words).

Your reflection should include:

  1. The names and types of diary pages (which regiment, years, etc.) you tagged. Also, include the location(s) for your divisions. (Are the locations near the battles we discussed in class?)
  2. The types of findings you encountered in your transcription. (What was going on in the diaries? Any battles or engagement with the enemy? Other activity?)
  3. Informed comparisons (or contrasts) with class materials, the recommended online sources (such as The Long, Long Trail), and information from the textbook on the war. Be sure to use evidence from the pages you tagged.
  4. An overall look at how your work connects to the historical record. (Number of casualties, the experience of war, the characteristics of trench warfare, specific battles, the shifts of the stage of war, etc.)

For more on using Operation War Diary in the classroom, read Susan Corbesero’s post on AHA Today, “Students in the Trenches: Using Operation War Diary to Teach the First World War.”