Autograph books

Autograph books

While diaries, letters and postcards are key records of lives lived and lost during World War 1, equally compelling are autograph books, particularly those kept by nurses.

Those recorded within Moray’s War include the experiences of those who worked in Moray and those from Moray who worked elsewhere.

These autograph books give a fascinating insight to the wide range of regiments, ships and boats represented by the wounded in the various hospitals.

Equally fascinating are the messages, drawings, ditties and poems written by the recovering personnel. There is a politeness, a gratitude, an underlying decency in what is written and recorded, with humour also playing its role. It is likely that the soldiers and sailors found adding their entries into the autograph books of the nurses something of a distraction judging from the detailed drawings and verses penned by them.

In parallel there are very succinct and sobering statements. For example: "Wounded in the attack on Guidecourt Sept 25th 1916"; "Wounded 18th August, Somme".

We do not know what happened to that soldier or indeed to so many of those personnel who spent time in Moray’s hospitals or being nursed by women from Moray. But what we do have in the pages of these autograph books is a telling testimony of service, sacrifice and care.

That more might be found would be invaluable in further illustrating and interpreting Moray’s War.

More info: 

Image from Elsie Hossack's autograph book
Image from the autograph book of Elsie Hossack who nursed at Braemoriston Auxiliary Hospital, Elgin
Image from Sarah Smart's autograph book
Image from the autograph book of Sister Sarah Smart. Miss Smart was a native of Elgin and nursed at Woodside Auxiliary Hospital, Glasgow during the war. Sister Smart returned to Elgin and ran the Post Office in Bishopmill for many years.
Image 2 from Sarah Smart's autograph book
A further image from Sister Smart's autograph book
Image 3 from Sarah Smart's autograph book
A further image from Sister Smart's autograph book