Guide to Getting Started

Watch the video tour

Then read on below to find out more about getting started with Lives of the First World War.


This Guide to Getting Started explains:

  • How Lives of the First World War is organised
  • The different features you can access
  • The principles of piecing together a Life Story.

How Lives of the First World War is organised

Lives of the First World War is organised into three areas:

  1. Life Stories

  2. History

  3. Communities.

 Life Stories

Every man and woman from across Britain and the Commonwealth who made a contribution during the First World War will have their own Life Story page.

You can show your commitment to remembering an individual by clicking the Remember button on their Life Story page.

Clicking the Remember button adds their Life Story to a list on your dashboard. This means you can easily find the people you are Remembering the next time you log in.

You can piece together information about an individual's experiences by adding evidence to their Life Story page and listing key facts.

History (Coming Soon)

Compiled by IWM historians, the History section will offer advice and information on a broad range of records, topics and themes to help you piece together a Life Story.

It will include:

  • Guides on how to spot the clues in different records
  • Articles on key events of the First World War 
  • Information about life in uniform and on the home front
  • Suggestions on how to take your research further.


The people whose stories are recorded in Lives of the First World War did not live, work and die alone. They shared experiences, perhaps by being part of a particular battalion or unit, a member of staff at a factory, a player on a football team or one of those commemorated on a village memorial.

If you choose to become a subscriber, you can become a Community Manager. This enables you to create and populate your own Communities by grouping together the life stories that you are interested in.

The features you can access

You can use Lives of the First World War as a Visitor, a Member, or a Friend.

  • As a Visitor you can search for Life Stories, view all the facts people have added to Life Stories, and explore the History section.
  • As a Member you can add to a Life Story and Remember an individual. To do this, you need to create an account and log in so we can show who has added each piece of information. Becoming a member is free.
  • As a Friend of Lives of the First World War you can view premium content and access special features by paying a subscription

Piecing together a Life Story

Life Story pages are created by IWM, using information from official records.

Initially they contain a name and a few key facts from that record. You can show your interest in a person by Remembering them.

We need your help to piece together the rest of each Life Story. There are two stages to doing this:

  1. First you need to find evidence about the person and connect it to their Life Story.
  2. Next, you use that evidence to add specific facts about the person's life and wartime experiences.

For example: 

  • After searching for someone and adding them to your list of Remembered Life Stories, you can then search for them in the records available on Lives of the First World War. You can also post links to records and sources of evidence from elsewhere, and you can add images and other media you may have.
  • Finally, you will be asked what these records tell us. If you have looked someone up in the 1911 census,  for example, you can connect this record to their Life Story, then add details from the census to the entry fields on their Life Story.

By working in this way we can make sure that each Life Story is as accurate as possible.

Everyone can look at the evidence for themselves. We can all help correct mistakes and make improvements.

Need more help?

  • To see who is included in Lives of the First World War, how they are identified and how to search for them, read our guide to Finding a Named Individual.

  • To see more on how to join evidence and add facts, read our guide to Adding to a Life Story.

  • Further FAQs, practical information about your account, how to search the records and how to use features can be found in our Knowledge Base.