The Charles Bean Collections

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Charles Bean’s papers form probably the single most significant collection of personal records held by the Australian War Memorial. Fundamental to the collection are the 286 volumes of diaries, notebooks, and folders kept by Bean during and after the war.

Bean was very conscious of the documentary importance of the diaries, particularly for the Gallipoli campaign, when no official Australian organisation existed to gather unit records. Roaming freely, he noted down conversations with men of all ranks, from privates to senior commanders and politicians.

He later made alterations and additions to these records, which did more than just assist him in his work as official correspondent. Because he knew he would also probably write a history of Australia’s part in the war, he compiled the diaries and notebooks in the expectation that they would become important source material. This they did.

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The diaries and notebooks can be sourced at
http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/war_diaries/cew_bean/

Bean was not blind to the limitations of the diaries and of eyewitness accounts in general and he left a warning for all future users.

“These writings represent only what at the moment of making them I believed to be true. These records should be used with great caution, as relating only what their author, at the time of writing, believed.” Charles Bean