What do we do?

Digitisation of first paper carrier: press from the front from WW1

In 2013, VIAA started the preparations for the first digitisation project focused on a paper carrier rather than an audiovisual carrier, in cooperation with FAROPACKED vzw and the Flemish Heritage Library.

During the ‘News from the Great War’ project, we digitised the war stories in the newspapers, censored press and trench papers from the First World War. We paid extra attention to the historic front pages. We’ve digitised 270,000 pages of Belgian press material in total, from 13 cultural heritage organisations.


Over two years, VIAA worked together with the Flemish Heritage Library and thirteen cultural heritage organisations to inventory, digitise and then publish the wartime newspapers online. Thanks to digitisation and sustainable archiving, we are keeping the content of these vulnerable paper carriers safe for future generations.

The ‘News from the Great War’ website will put the digital heritage from the First World War on the international map. Thanks to a subsidy via Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois, you can browse the website in Dutch, French, English and German.

In the spring of 2017, we expanded the database with more than 90,000 additional newspaper pages published between 1914 and 1918. CegeSoma, the Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society, had previously digitised these pages within the project ‘The Belgian War Press’. The collections supplement and enrich each other by means of exchanging material.

Through a European tendering process, the digitisation was awarded to the Dutch company GMS. The project ‘News from the Great War’ was completed in March 2015.

I am incredibly impressed and grateful that all of the material in "the News of the Great War" project is available online to the extent that it is to someone like me nearly 15,000kms distant. What a technological miracle this is and boon to scholarship!

Professor Emeritus Boyd Rayward
University of Illinois & University of New South Wales

KarenKarenkleincrop