State Library digitises soldier portraits in time for Remembrance Day

Digital portraits of nearly 30,000 Queensland soldiers who served in the First World War are now able to be searched online as part of the Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation program.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said the soldier portraits are an incredible digital resource for anyone interested in the First World War and Queensland history.

“These nearly 30,000 portraits are freely available for people to view, comment on and download as high resolution image files,” Ms Enoch said.

“Now that these photographs have been digitised and linked to war service records, we have a uniquely discoverable and usable resource available online for current and future generations.”

Captain Andrew Craig RAN (Retd), Chair of the Queensland Advisory Committee for the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary said the innovative state-wide initiative demonstrates the importance of creating a digital legacy for current and future generations.

“Embracing 21st century technology has made it easier than ever for the public to understand and discover more about those Queenslanders who served in the First World War and their experiences.”

State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald said the digitisation of the soldier portraits was an important commemorative resource, particularly in the lead up to significant occasions such as Remembrance Day.

“The digitisation of the soldier portraits will contribute to developing a lasting First World War legacy while furthering our understanding of Queensland’s involvement in and experiences during the war years,” Ms McDonald said.

“We’ve had feedback from people who have used the resource, telling us that this is the first time they’ve been able to see photographs of their family members.”

“The soldier portraits represent almost 30,000 unique Queensland stories; stories of husbands, fathers, sons, friends and brothers. This is a powerful resource and one which truly serves to commemorate those who fought and sacrificed during the war.”

In order to digitise, describe and make accessible such a vast collection of portraits and information, SLQ staff worked with a team of 30 tireless volunteers who have donated their time to help complete this project. Planning for the digitisation project commenced in late 2013, with the final soldier portrait being made available online in September 2016.

In September 1914, Talma Studios and Fegan Studios set up tents in the soldier’s camp at Enoggera to take photographs of soldiers in uniform for publication in the Pictorial Supplement of The Queenslander newspaper, a weekly summary and literary edition of the Brisbane Courier (now The Courier-Mail).

The portraits continued to be published in The Queenslander until the war ended in 1918. There would eventually be nearly 30,000 photographs captured of young men about to enter war (around half the number of Queenslanders who served in the First World War).

Throughout the war years, The Queenslander was regularly filled with pages of soldier portraits, as well as photographs from the war and the home fronts, depicting all aspects of life in Queensland.

This large collection of photographs enabled The Queenslander to promptly publish portraits as soon as casualty lists were issued. Photos were re-published as reports of wounded or missing soldiers were received and again as pages were created as a Roll of Honour.

SLQ has now digitised all of the soldier portraits which can be accessed and downloaded through the One Search catalogue. Where possible, each soldier portrait has been linked to their war service record on the National Archives of Australia’s Discovering Anzacs website.

Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation is proudly supported by the Queensland Government.

Media enquiries:
Hillary Bell | 07 3842 9864 |
State Library of Queensland Communications

For more information visit

To ‘find your soldier’, visit the One Search catalogue, search for a soldier by surname, include the word ‘soldiers’ in the search terms, and limit the search to ‘SLQ Digitised Collections’.

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