Thursday, January 10, 2008

World War I Blog

Thirty years ago I was a new high school history teacher at a large rural school in south central Missouri. Liberty High School of the Mountain View – Birch Tree R-III School District was a wonderful place to learn to teach and I was able to work in a fairly free manner. One thing that I remember doing was “first person” history, where the assignment would be to have students go out into the community and interview people about significant events that they had lived through. At that time there were still several World War I veterans living in the community, so when we got to that era of our nation’s history, these people were able to provide inquiring students with a personal insight into the “War to End All Wars.”

Today nearly all of the veterans of the First World War are gone, as are most of their children. It is an era that has been almost completely relegated to the interpretations of historians. Recently, however, that great conflict has been reopened in a most contemporary manner.

The war letters of a British soldier, Private William Henry “Harry” Bonser Lamin, are running sequentially in a blog as if they are current items. The letters are each being published ninety years to the day after they were written. It is an exciting form of personal history that has created a literal world-wide sensation. Readers follow Harry’s war travails not knowing how his story will end. Will there be another letter (blog entry) tomorrow, or will Harry become a war fatality without warning. It is very much like receiving daily mail from a relative who is in the war and fighting on the front.

Bill Lamin is Harry’s fifty-nine-year-old grandson. He found the letters when he was a child. Bill, an industrial technology teacher, came up with the clever idea of presenting his grandfather’s correspondence as a first person history in a blog. The project has been successful beyond his wildest dreams, with the web site receiving over half a million hits during one three-day period earlier this month.

If you would like daily updates from World War I, check out Private Lamin’s blog at You won’t be disappointed!

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