About the project

Photograph of Elsie Jean Dalyell with fellow Women’s College students Charlotte Maud Bertie and Abbie Stone.
Elsie Jean Dalyell (M.B., Ch.M) (on far right) with fellow Women’s College students Charlotte Maud Bertie and Abbie Stone. Image courtesy Sydney University Archives

Beyond 1914 – The University of Sydney and the Great War is an extensive, searchable database of biographies and archival information of members of the University community involved in the First World War. It forms a major part of the University’s contribution to the history of the Australian experience of the Great War.

We have built Beyond 1914 using information provided to the University between 1916 and 1938 by more than 2000 former staff, students, graduates and their families. It was used to compile the University of Sydney’s Book of Remembrance, first published in 1939. As an interactive, searchable website, Beyond 1914 offers a unique insight into the lives of these University men and women before, during and after the war.

In addition to extracts from the original Book of Remembrance, Beyond 1914 also features personal diaries, war service records, photographs, letters, postcards, songbooks and Christmas and condolence cards. This substantial collection was compiled by the University at the time but has never before been published.

It is important to note that Beyond 1914 is not a complete record of the lives of these men and women. There is still more information to be found and we invite family members and the general public to help complete the database.

Photograph of Norman Townsend
Sapper Norman Townsend (B.E., B.Sc). Image courtesy Sydney University Archives

There are 500 men listed on Beyond 1914 for whom there is no information at all. This list of names has been taken from the Book of Remembrance and includes those who were known to have been part of the University Company and who volunteered for active service, only to still be in training camp in Australia when the war ended. We would like to collect information about these men and those too who contributed elsewhere to the War effort on the home front or as part of the conscription debates.

New information and material will be continually added to the site over the next three years. If you have further knowledge of someone who features on the site or would like to help us search for this information, please see our contribute page for more information.

The database for Beyond 1914 was built using Heurist, an open source knowledge management platform for the humanities developed within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

More than 10,000 life events were extracted from the Book of Remembrance and loaded into Heurist. These events are 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 have been loaded and linked to individuals.

Heurist provides the back-end infrastructure for data management and biographical research, while the Beyond 1914 website provides the public interface to this information.


  • 1914

    4 August 1914 – War breaks out in Europe and Australian Prime Minister Joseph Cook pledges full support for the British echoing the words of then opposition leader Andrew Fisher that Australia will stand by Britain to its “last man and last shilling”.

    11 September 1914 – Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force lands at Rabaul, German New Guinea

    11 September 1914Captain Brian Pockley (Sydney University, M.B. 1914) is fatally wounded in Kabakaul, becoming the first Australian officer serving with the Australian Imperial Force to die in the war.

  • 1915

    25 April 1915 – Allied forces land at Gallipoli, Turkey, beginning an eight-month campaign against the Turks.

    November 1915 – Editor of student magazine Hermes announces that an endeavour will be made early in 1916 to publish records and photographs of University men at war.

  • 1916

    February 1916 – Battle of Verdun begins

    30 September 1916 – Sydney University Union president H.V. Evatt publishes a circular that appears in newspapers across the country requesting photographs and details of war service for a proposed War Memorial section of the University Archives

    July 1916 – Battle of the Somme begins

  • 1917

    May 1917 – Honorary Archivist John Le Gay Brereton begins compiling war records from the Union Archives; these are published regularly in Hermes throughout the remainder of the War.

    July 1917 – Battle of Passchendaele begins

  • 1918

    11 November 1918 – Germany surrenders and signs the Armistice

  • 1919

    29 October 1919 – The University holds a garden party for all returned soldiers and includes a Roll of Service featuring the names of 1,300 service personnel from the University community. It included a note asking for additions and alterations to be sent to the University Registrar

  • 1922

    The University establishes a War Memorial committee. At its first meeting the committee decides to compile a book containing a list of all the men and women who served during the War.

  • 1924

    Construction of a War Memorial Carillion is commissioned.

  • 1931

    The War Memorial committee commits to compiling the Book of Remembrance, listing all the men and women who served overseas and including both their academic and service details.

  • 1932

    George Edward Hall is appointed honorary archivist by Professor Holme on behalf of the University committee and begins compiling information for the Book of Remembrance.

  • 1939

    The University of Sydney’s Book of Remembrance is published.

  • 2013

    The University of Sydney Archives and University Historian Associate Professor Julia Horne receive a grant from the Chancellor’s Committee to establish an interactive research database about the University of Sydney’s contribution to the Allied effort in the First World War.

  • 2014

    9 September 2014 – Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales launches Beyond 1914 – The University of Sydney and The Great War in the Great Hall.


Beyond 1914 – The University of Sydney and The Great War receives generous support from the University of Sydney’s Chancellor’s Committee, Women’s College, St Paul’s College, St John’s College and St Andrew’s College, as well as from the University of Sydney.

The database functionality is designed by Dr Ian Johnson, Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and is powered by Heurist software originally conceived by Dr Johnson and developed by the Arts eResearch team in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the University of Sydney.

Project management by Elizabeth Gillroy, World War One Centenary Project Officer, the University of Sydney.

The website is designed by Web and Digital Development at the University of Sydney.

Digitisation of the Book of Remembrance and its research files undertaken by Alan Clarke of W&F Pascoes

Signup up to our newsletter

Simply complete your details to receive our regular e-newsletter filled with updates and events relevant to the Beyond 1914 website.

The University of Sydney respects your privacy You can unsubscribe to this e-newsletter at any time.