NZ'S FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY 2014–2019

About Life 100 Years Ago

What was life like for New Zealanders 100 years ago today?

Join us to help New Zealanders understand what life was like 100 years ago during the First World War by sharing excerpts from personal diaries, newspapers, letters.... in 'real-time' online.


Tweet content

We're sharing direct quotes from 100-year-old diaries, letters, newspapers and other information sources such as photographs. Tweets are posted in 'real-time' exactly to the day.

Follow individual New Zealanders as they go to war or report on life during wartime, or a group account bringing together Tweets from all the soldiers and people at home together.

Our focus is on bringing together many individual – and often very personal – New Zealand experiences and perspectives on a given day 100 years ago during wartime – both at home and overseas.

Find out who is currently Tweeting

Join the project

Follow life 100 years ago

@life100yearsago on Twitter

The @life100yearsago account groups together all of the different diarists and information sources contributing to the project. You don't have to be a Twitter user to view this account.

Follow this account if you want to get a sense of life 100 years ago today from multiple perspectives but don’t want to follow each of the soldiers or sources individually. The number of contributors to this group feed will grow as the project gains momentum.

Follow @life100yearsago on Twitter

Individual sources on Twitter

Each of the diarists and information sources on Life 100 Years Ago (@life100yearsago) has their own Twitter account. Find them under Life 100 Years Ago Sources.

You can also find them via the attribution statement in the @life100yearsago Tweets. For example, in the following excerpt clicking on @adkin_diary will take you to George Leslie Adkin's Twitter feed.

Follow a selection of individual voices to create your own personal 'history channel' on Twitter and experience wartime through the words of those who were there. 

WW100 website

You don’t have to be a Twitter user to follow this project. Every hour, the Tweets are published on the WW100 website. You can also search for particular days in history in the archive.

Join in

You can participate in this project in different ways – from just reading about events, lives and stories as they unfold daily – to actively contributing to a shared timeline of New Zealand's social history.

#WW100 is the project-specific Twitter hashtag for people participating in the project.

Participate in the project

Read our notes for teachers

Learn about hashtags - Twitter

A word of caution

Please remember that the sources we are using for this project weren’t necessarily intended to be historical documents, or used to explain the past.

We make no claims that this is a complete picture of life 100 years ago. But it does reveal a view of the past as it was experienced and recorded by these New Zealanders – just as we use platforms such as Twitter to share stories, ideas, opinions and news about what we find interesting today.

As Gavin McLean writes in How To Do Local History (Otago University Press: 2007), primary sources “are a partial record only – not everything gets recorded and even less survives”. Only a small portion of that partial surviving historical record can be sampled to create this timeline.

Learn more about primary sources - National Library of New Zealand

What about interactivity?

You’re welcome to interact with our ‘ghosts from the archives’ as you do with anyone else on Twitter, but they won't reply. We won't be mixing contemporary and historical Tweets.

Where there are relationships between our diarists or letter writers, however, you will see them mention each other. For example @Adkin_diary is @Denton_diary’s nephew.

You can still get in touch with us through other First World War centenary programme (WW100) channels if you need to. We'll also be using these to provide commentary on the project.

Contact WW100

Follow WW100 on Twitter

Techie bits

How does it all work? People set up individual Twitter accounts for historical sources, and Tweet quotes from the same day in history 100 years ago (typically using a free scheduler tool).

We connect these accounts up to our Drupal7 website using the Twitter module, customised to display images. We also connect them to the @life100yearsago Twitter account, using Grouptweet.

When our Tweeters from the past use the #WW100 hashtag (reserved for particularly ‘Tweetable’ moments from this day 100 years ago) that Tweet shows on the website timeline (updated hourly) and is Tweeted through @life100yearsago with an automatically-added attribution (e.g. "via @adkin_diary").

Tools for scheduling Tweets - Makeuseof

Find out about Grouptweet - Grouptweet

Access the Twitter module for Drupal - Drupal.org

Project timeframe

Life 100 Years Ago has been live since 1 April 2013. By kicking off the project now, you will get a sense of what everyday life in New Zealand was like in 1913, before war broke out.

The official launch was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the arrival of HMS New Zealand in Wellington on 12th of April – a significant historical occasion noted in each diary – and the topic of a related WW100 project, the Bulldog & the Battlecruiser.

Our aim is to continue into the First World War period and through to 2019. You can join the project any time.

View a historical timeline of New Zealand's involvement in the First World War

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