This is very cool: the Australian War Memorial, Australia's foremost military history museum, seems to be getting into blogging in a big way! Today, there was an announcement on H-War (and Victoria's cross? is already on the case) of a group blog running in conjunction with an exhibition about Australia's participation in the big Western Front battles of 1917: To Flanders Fields, 1917. It's maintained by a group of AWM curators and historians: Peter Burness, Craig Tibbitts, Shaune Lakin and Anne-Marie CondÃ©.
That's all I was going to mention, but I noticed that the AWM has set up a subdomain called blog.awm.gov.au, which suggested that there might be other AWM blogs out there. Now, that page is completely blank, so I used my Google-fu to see if I could find anything else using that domainname. And there are four more blogs! Focus: photography & war 1945-2006; Gallipoli Battlefield Tour 2007; George Lambert: Gallipoli & Palestine Landscapes; Lawrence of Arabia & the Light Horse. All of them accompany AWM exhibitions, except for the Gallipoli tour one, obviously. Presumably they won't be updated after their associated exhibition ends, but then there'll be other blogs to replace them.
The AWM is to be applauded for this. They all look very interesting and are already well-established, with posts on a variety of intriguing topics, with some fantastic illustrations to boot (drawing on one of the Memorial's strengths there). A lot of effort has been put into them and it shows. But I wonder why I haven't come across any of these blogs before? Partly it's because I don't visit the AWM homepage often enough -- they're all listed there quite prominently (so much for Google-fu!) But another part of the answer would seem to be that the AWM's bloggers haven't tried to hook into the rest of the historioblogosphere -- there are no links to other blogs in their sidebars or posts (that I could see anyway). Whether this is by design or by accident I can't say -- I can see why they'd want to focus on their own content -- but I think they're missing out on promotional opportunities by neglecting the social networking aspect of blogging. Hopefully a bit of linkage in their direction will show them what they are missing.
I don't want to end on even that slightly sour note, as I do think this is really exciting, so I'll point to one post by Anne-Marie CondÃ© which caught my eye. It's about the Australian War Records Section, formed in London in May 1917, effectively the origins of the AWM itself, and features some photographs and artefacts associated with it, such as a 1918-pattern pair of anti-gas goggles and a stuffed carrier pigeon. There's also some more good news: the AWM is digitising the war diaries of Australian Army units involved in the various wars of the twentieth century. The project is only its early days, but this is going to be a tremendous resource for historians and genealogists. I was disappointed, though, to discover that war diary entries don't begin with sentences like 'Dear war diary, today we launched another futile assault against Turkish positions at Lone Pine ...' :D