Millions of First World War prisoner records held by the International Committee of the Red Cross have been uploaded to the web for the first time.
Available for free through a new web portal, the vast collection provides details of people who were held in prisoner of war camps across Europe between 1914-1918.
Created by their captors, the records were submitted to the International Prisoners-of-War Agency, which was set up by the ICRC at the start of the conflict to help restore contact between prisoners and their families at home.
Researchers will generally be able to locate an index card for each individual, providing basic details about their imprisonment and reference numbers for any related documents held elsewhere in the database.
Cards containing tracing requests made by prisoners’ next of kin can also be consulted.
Although all civilian-internee index cards from the ICRC’s archives in Switzerland are now online, roughly 20 per cent of the cards for military prisoners from Belgium, France, the UK and Germany are yet to be digitised.
According to the organisation, the missing records will be steadily uploaded over the next six months, with approximately 5 million index cards representing 2.5 million prisoners of the war available through website by the end of 2014.
In addition, the ICRC has also uploaded a large collection of historic postcards and reports on the conditions in which internees were being held at camps across Europe, Egypt, India, Russia and Japan.
Thanks to Who Do You Think You Are Magazine for highlighting this resource.