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27th May, 2016

Kingston University volunteers help historians complete landmark digital archive project of British Red Cross World War One volunteers

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The stories of more than 90,000 World War One British Red Cross volunteers – whose work ranged from driving ambulances on the front line to cleaning floors in makeshift hospitals back home – can now be found online thanks to the dedication of almost 800 volunteers from Kingston University’s Centre for the Historical Record.

For the past two years, a team of volunteers has been hard at work painstakingly transcribing a collection of 100-year-old personnel index cards that held the details of people who gave their time to support the war effort. Many of the 90,000 Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) offered their services a number of times. Each instance was recorded separately, resulting in a staggering 244,000 registration cards.

The free digital archive gives members of the public the chance to search for friends and families who volunteered during the war and unearth key details about where they worked and the tasks they carried out.

The VADs came from all walks of life and included the rich and famous – crime author Agatha Christie volunteered as a pharmacist – as well as working class families and children. While some were qualified nurses, others volunteered as cooks or cleaners in makeshift hospitals or set up knitting circles to provide the troops with socks.

To read more click here.


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