First World War treasures: a white gloves experience

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Education kit overview

State Library of Queensland, through the John Oxley Library, has been collecting First World War diaries, letters, photographs and historically significant items since it opened its doors in 1934.

One hundred years on from the beginning of the First World War there are still stories to be told, memories to be shared, and undiscovered treasures tucked away in family homes, personal collections, and heritage and cultural institutions across Queensland.
Through uncovering our past, connecting stories, and capturing contemporary commemorations across Queensland, together we will build new knowledge, skills and online resources – creating a digital legacy for future generations to gain greater understanding of the Queensland experiences during and after the First World War.

Q ANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation is a five year state wide legacy initiative providing Queenslanders with opportunities to learn and contribute to bringing our history to life and a renewed WWI and Anzac legacy for future generations.

More than 57,700 Queenslanders served our country in the First World War. This experience is suitable for students from grades 5 – 12 studying the First World War. While this education kit has been designed largely for grade 6, 9, 11 and 12 History and Modern History students, most activities within the kit can easily be modified to suit other age levels.

This education kit contains the following:

Experience information

Information for Visiting School Groups

  • Booking information

Education material

  • Curriculum links
  • Activity suggestions (pre-visit/post-visit/cross-curriculum activity suggestions)
  • Resources showcased within the white gloves experience (Resource 1)

Experience information

This is a unique opportunity to put on the white gloves and join State Library of Queensland for a hands-on look at some of State Library’s precious original First World War materials.

Get up close and personal with a curated selection of First World War treasures such as letters, diaries and photographs.

A State Library of Queensland collection specialist will guide the group through the story and significance of carefully selected First World War collection items. The students will be given the opportunity to look at the items and will be able to carefully handle most of the items using white gloves.

The gloves protect the item from the oils contained on a person’s hands. We request that students wishing to handle the items wash their hands prior to attending the session.

The First World War treasures from the SLQ collection will be on display in the front of the room, with captions to identify each one. The white gloves experience resource handout (see Resource 1) identifies the material and provides the SLQ One Search catalogue reference, and also identifies which item has digital copies available.

Information for visiting school groups

The First World War Treasures: a white gloves experience will be approximately 1 hour in duration. Teachers are welcome and encouraged to take photos of the signature items that are on display throughout the experience.

Before your experience
It is suggested that teachers utilise the pre-visit activity suggestions within these learning notes, to equip students with some prior information and context before attending a white gloves experience.

To book a white gloves experience for your students, or to find out where an experience is taking place within your community, please visit the Q ANZAC 100 website or email the Regional Coordinator, Q ANZAC 100:

Education material

Curriculum Links

This kit, combined with a White Gloves Experience, strongly supports the study of History in grades 6 and 9 and the study of Modern History in grades 11 and 12. It also supports various cross-curricular learning areas, capabilities and priorities. The History and Modern History links are provided below. Cross-curriculum activity suggestions are detailed in the pre and post visit activity suggestions.

Curriculum links to Australian curriculum (V7.5)

History: Grade 6 Knowledge and understanding

Topic - Australia as a nation

Experiences of Australian democracy and citizenship including the status and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, migrants, women and children.
The contribution of individuals and groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and migrants to the development of Australian society.

Possible inquiry questions

  1. What contribution did Australia’s Indigenous Peoples and women play during the war?
  2. What were their citizenship rights before and after the war?
  3. What role did Australia’s democratic ideals have in the conscription debate? (referendum)
  4. What were the experiences of Australians serving overseas?
  5. How did the First World War impact Australia – socially, economically, and politically?

History: Grade 9

Knowledge and understanding

Depth Study – The First World War

Students investigate key aspects of the First World War and the Australian experience of the war, including the nature and significance of the war in world and Australian history.


  1. An overview of the causes of the First World War and the reasons why men chose to enlist.
  2. The places where Australians fought and the nature of warfare during World War 1, including the Gallipoli campaign.
  3. The impact of the First World War, with a particular emphasis on Australia (such as the use of propaganda to influence the civilian population, the changing role of women, the conscription debate).
  4. The commemoration of the First World War, including debates about the nature and significance of the Anzac legend.

Modern History: Grades 11 and 12

Knowledge and understanding

Elective – An alternative significant development: The First World War

Students investigate how the First World War shaped the modern world.

Possible inquiry questions for Years 9, 11 and 12

  1. What were the causes of the First World War?
  2. Who were the significant people, alliances and events associated with the First World War?
  3. What were the key ideas of the age – imperialism, patriotism etc?
  4. What were the experiences of people involved in and affected by the war?
  5. What were the effects of the war both immediate and long term?

Historical skills (All grades)

The following provides some examples of how the First World War treasures experience and this teacher kit support the historical skills, as outlined in the Australian Curriculum.

Chronology terms and concepts

Create timelines of major events.
Use terminology to discuss the First World War.
Read and comprehend terminology used in text panels, displayed resources and other interpretive materials.
Discuss and understand concepts of patriotism, racism, loyalty, nationalism etc.

Historical questions and research

Research a Queenslander who served in the war by analysing the sources and information found in the First World War treasures experience.
Form historical questions to research further upon return to school.

Analysis and use of sources

Use the primary sources found in the experience to answer inquiry questions.
Analyse sources back at school online using State Library’s catalogue, One Search.

Perspectives and interpretation

Use the sources and background information found in the First World War treasures experience to investigate and analyse the different perspectives on enlistment, conscription, reasons for going to war etc.

Explanation and communication

After viewing information and items during a white gloves experience of First World War treasures, students can communicate findings through a variety of communication forms and texts including diaries, letters, poems, research reports etc.

General capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities (All grades)

The First World War treasures white gloves experience and this teacher kit provide opportunities to embed the following general capabilities into the learning program:

General Capabilities

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Personal and social capability
  • Ethical understanding
  • Intercultural understanding

Activity suggestions

Studies have shown that students learn more from an excursion if it is embedded into an extended school program. This means that the excursion should not be a stand-alone experience but should link to other learning experiences. One way teachers can achieve this is by undertaking pre and post-visit activities.

Pre-visit activities orientate students to the topic. They should include background information which students can build upon during their visit. They should also prepare students for any information gathering that needs to occur during their visit.
Post-visit activities allow students to extend upon or consolidate their knowledge of the topic back at school.
In view of this and in consideration of the knowledge students may need to possess before they experience First World War treasures, the following pre-visit and post-visit activities have been suggested. Modify them to suit different year levels.

Pre-visit activities

Explore what students already know about the First World War
Have your students fill out a KW chart. As well as ascertaining knowledge base, these charts are useful in the development of student driven inquiry questions. Brainstorm what words students think of when they hear the word ANZAC. Consider why they think this. Ask them to look for examples to support their ideas throughout the white gloves experience.

Set the scene

Discuss Australia before the war
What were the key events before the war (federation, the drought etc)?
How were Australia’s Indigenous peoples, women and migrants treated before the war?
What was the White Australia policy and how did it shape Australia’s population and views?
Complete a Venn diagram to show the similarities and differences between Australia at the time and Australia today.

Discuss the British Empire and Australia’s relationship with Britain at the time
How did Australia’s relationship with Britain shape Australian’s view of themselves and their loyalties?

Map the British Empire
At the beginning of the war the rest of the world largely viewed Australia as simply being an outpost of Britain. Due to the bonds Australia shared with Britain, many Australians viewed themselves the same way and looked to Britain for leadership. Economically, Great Britain was Australia’s largest trading partner, socially most of the population were of British heritage and politically the people of Australia, despite living in a recently federated country, were still considered British citizens until 1948.

Discuss the concepts of imperialism, militarism, alliances and nationalism
How did these concepts lead to the outbreak of the First World War?
Complete a cause and effect chart which details how these led to the outbreak of the First World War.

Map the Triple Entente and the Triple alliances
At the beginning of the 1900s the five greatest world powers were Britain, Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary and France. Most were trying to expand or hold onto vast empires (imperialism), most had large armies (militarism), all competed economically and all believed that their country was more worthy than the other (nationalism). As a result they became suspicious of each other and formed alliances, which promised to protect each other should one of them be invaded.
On 28 June Arch Duke Ferdinand, a member of Austria-Hungary’s royal family, was shot and killed in Serbia. As Germany was in an alliance with Austria-Hungary, Germany saw the assassination as a provocation of war and soon after invaded Belgium and France.

Identify the Australians who fought and where they fought
Where did Australians fight overseas?
Which forces, corps and services served?
Map key places/locations, such as:

  • Middle East: Cairo, Alexandria, Suez Canal, Sinai Peninsular, Beersheba
  • Europe: Western Front, Eastern Front
  • Mediterranean: Lemnos, Malta, Greece, Dardanelles, Gallipoli

People: The Australian Imperial Force (AIF), the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Australian Light Horse and the Australian Flying Corps, The Australian Army Nursing Service all fought or served in the First World War.

Complete a Frayer model of words with which students are unfamiliar
Don’t forget the acronyms...ANZAC, AIF.
The name ANZAC was first used in the First World War. Army clerks in Cairo had to mark boxes being dispatched to the front ‘Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’. This proved too long so they abbreviated it to A & NZ AC. This still proved too long to put on a stamp so it was finally changed to ANZAC.

Introduce experience vocabulary
What vocabulary will be encountered throughout the experience?
The following lists key words students should be familiar with and will encounter during their experience. Have students write their meanings in the box next to it and use it as a glossary. Bring the glossary with you when you visit, to help students interpret the information.

British Empire 

Other pre-visit activities

Introduce any post-visit assessment pieces and discuss what students need to complete during their experience in order to finalise the assessment following the visit.

Family study / My family history analysis

Introducing students to this concept, and ways to begin investigating the history of their own family.

Photo analysis

Download from One Search a selection of the following images from the albums that will be displayed during the experience:

Ask students to form a hypothesis using a selected photo from these albums and fill out the photo analysis activity sheet provided. Ask students to take the activity sheet to the experience to learn about the actual historical account of the information and compare their hypothesis to the historical account.

Photo analysis activity sheet

Choose a photograph and answer the questions listed. Some information will be provided to you at the First World War treasures white gloves experience.

General information
Who is the photographer?
What is the accession number (Acc:) negative no:?
Where is the photograph kept?
What does the photo label say?

When do you think the photograph was taken?
Is there anything in the background that would give you an idea of when it was taken? Look for dates, clothes the people are wearing, signs, items of technology etc

Was this image taken inside or outside?
What animals or plants can you see in the image?
What is the weather like?
Where do you think it was taken?

How many are there in this image?
How old are they?
What are they doing?
How are they dressed?
Do they look happy, sad or something else?

Buildings and structures
Describe the buildings and structures you see in the photograph:
Are they old or new?
Are they damaged?
What do you think they are used for? Why do you think this?

Why do you think the image was taken?
Was it to celebrate a person or event?
Was it to show how life was?
Was it to celebrate success?
Was it for another reason?

Write some questions you have about the image

Write your hypothesis:
Write down what you think is happening in this photograph. Give as much background information as you can to support your hypothesis. Answer the following questions in sentences.

Who is in the photograph?

What is happening in the photograph?

Where is the photograph taken?

When was the photograph taken?

Why was the photograph taken?

What else would you like to include?

Post-visit activities

Photo analysis

Complete the activity based on the information presented and compare it to their original hypothesis.

My family history

Gather items from home, interview relatives and family members who can give an account of their own family history. Use The Dunbar and Boyle Family Correspondence 1878-1921 as an example to view family correspondence. (Currently, this item is not available to view in a digital format; teachers are welcome and encouraged to take a photo of the items during the White Gloves experience, to use as a reference back at school.)

Choose an historical story

Choose a story from the collection and prepare a report / a showcase. Research the story further using your own library / the internet / State Library of Queensland One Search catalogue.

Cross-curriculum post-visit activities


Examine newspaper reports, posters, postcards, letters, diaries and propaganda material written during the war and consider if and how (and why) support for the war changed over time.

Guest Speaker
Invite a guest speaker from Legacy or the RSL to discuss how they care for returned soldiers and their families. Consider if and how their roles have changed over time.


Using information collected during the experience, have students write a biography of one of the people featured. Have them locate associated images/objects/information on State Library’s One Search to support their biographies.

Newspaper report
Write a newspaper report using one of the key items presented in the collection as the headliner image.

Diary writing
Have students examine the Gallipoli Diary of Reverend Green then write their own entry detailing an experience or a different perspective on an entry.

Postcard or Letter
Have students write a letter home to their family detailing their experience of a major event of the war.

Persuasive Speech

Gallipoli was Australia’s first entry into war as a nation and militarily it was a disaster. In view of this, should we commemorate it the way we do? Ask students to write a persuasive essay detailing their position.

Prepare a class debate which considers if Australia should have gone to war at all. Research arguments presented for and against at the time then present these as a class debate.


Produce a timeline of contemporary and historical methods of communication.


Design a postcard
Examine symbolism used at the time of the First World War. Design a postcard that a soldier would choose to send back home to highlight their experience of the war.


Make up a song
Listen to patriotic songs then have students make one up / write a piece of music to play to the class.


Have students work in groups or pairs, and prepare a character study analysis based on one of the people and their family members presented within the White Gloves experience. Have students write a script of a scene that may have taken place within the family, set either before, during or after the war.


The land
Consider the terrain at Gallipoli. How did this contribute to the failure of the campaign?

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