Following the First World War, the Dominion Museum (now Te Papa) attempted to collect a photographic portrait of every New Zealander who had received a gallantry medal during the war.

Medal recipients’ families sent in photographs along with correspondence providing background information. The Museum gave each photograph an F-number, and exhibited them on boards in 1920.

When we received them, we took each photographic portrait off its board and stored them individually. This was partly for preservation reasons and partly for ease of access. We created Series 25044, so you can search for each medal recipient by name. The Archway listings also include the name of the medal earned and often give background information about why the medal was awarded.

So far we have digitised about 85% of the portraits. These are viewable on Archway. The rest need conservation work before we can digitise them. To view any of the non-digitised portraits, you can ask us for a referral to preservation staff.

To trace the background of a photo you can look at Series 907. This series contains correspondence between the Museum and the family members who provided the photograph. The correspondence files are slim, but they often contain some biographical information.

If you are interested in seeing how a photograph looked on its original board, you can find the alternative record number of the photograph in Series 25044. Use this number to search Series 902, which contains digitised images of how the boards looked in the 1920 exhibition.

Unfortunately, there are some missing photographs. These were missing on the boards when we received them. The Museum likely removed these photographs to return them to family members, or for some other purpose.