About the Project

GWonline, the Bibliography, Filmography and Webography on Gender and War since 1600


The GWonline Website

War was and is one of the major subjects of history, because conflicts in different forms and scales are a recurrent phenomenon since Antiquity with far reaching consequences for politics, economy, society, and culture. Changes in these areas are closely related with transformations in warfare and the military and vice versa. Because of its importance, the history of war and the military is a fascinating subject for broad audiences and clearly sells as a topic of books, autobiographies and movies, but also of teaching at high schools, colleges and universities. But this history is most of the time told as a male story in a dual sense: written by men and focusing on men—despite nearly four decades of research by women and gender historians. Most of these ‘general’ works still ignore the important dimension of gender in the past and present of military and war and its interrelationship with politics, the economy, society and culture. The research by women and gender historians has demonstrated that not only all forms of warfare and war violence are gendered, but also war mobilization and demobilization, war support and opposition, war experiences at the front and the so-called homefront, the cultural representations of conflicts, as well as their collective and individual memories.

The main goal of the digital humanities and public history project GWonline is to make the quickly growing interdisciplinary research on the important subject of gender and war and its history as well as the increasing number of movies and websites related to this subject more accessible for the public. GWonline collects and organizes titles of secondary literature, women’s autobiographies, films and informative websites on this subject to make them available. Alongside full text searching, it allows users to explore the collections of curated sources through multiple entry points: author or director, publication or release date, collection, major wars, countries and regions or keywords. With its more than 8.000 carefully curated entries mainly in English, but also in French, German and Spanish, and the different search options it aims to be a useful resource for students, teachers and researchers. To learn more about the way GWonline works please use our brief video guide.

Most recently we added GWonline Learning & Teaching, which provides students, teacher and instructors with suggestions of selected material (literature, websites with maps, timelines and primary sources, autobiographies, films) for the studying and teaching of seven major conflicts in modern global history. For instructors it offers in addition a Syllabus Collection.

GWonline is a collaboration of the UNC Chapel Hill Department of History, IT Research Computing, the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense and UNC Library and Information Technology. It was created as a non-for-profit project with the help of a team of graduate and undergraduate students with the aim to train them in public history and digitial humanities. The website is based on Drupal, a free and open source content-management framework written in PHP, which is distributed under the GNU General Public License. Drupal allowed us to develop the project with a small budget, but at the same time limited the possibilities of the project development. Since we opened it for the public in April 2017, more than 600.000 users accessed the page.


The Oxford Handbook of Gender, War and the Western World since 1600

GWonline is connected to the Oxford Handbook of Gender, War, and the Western World since 1600 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), edited by Karen Hagemann, Stefan Dudink and Sonya A. Rose, which was selected as  the winner of the Reference Work Prize for 2022 by the Distinguished Book Awards Committee of the Military History Society. The approach and scope of the handbook defined the content of GWonline, which also allows a literature search by Handbook chapters.

The Oxford Handbook is a reference work of thirty-two essays jointly written by specialists in the history of military and war and experts in gender and women’s history. The collection, covering the period from the Thirty Years War to the Wars of Globalization, investigates how gender, an amalgam of ideals and practices that give meaning to and socially differentiate male and female, contributed to the shaping of warfare and related to it the military and was at the same time transformed by them. The essays explore this question by focusing on themes such as the cultural representations of military and war; war mobilization of and war support by society; war experiences on the homefronts and battlefronts; gendered war violence including sexual violence; military service and citizenship; war demobilization, postwar societies and memories; and the attempts to regulate and tame warfare and prevent new wars.

The Oxford Handbook covers chronologically the major periods in the development of warfare since the seventeenth century. Based on the current research its main geographical focus is on Europe and the long-term processes of colonization and empire-building and their aftermath in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia including the history of decolonization. Thus the handbook allows for both, temporal comparisons that explore continuities and changes in a long-term perspective, and regional comparisons as well as an assessment of transnational influences on the entangled relationships between and among gender, warfare and military culture. For more on the Oxford Handbook click here.