Monday, 29 March 2010


I really like lists - as a child I combatted boredom by reading the telephone directory and railway timetables - at least that's how I remember it now, although I do hope not too much energy was expended that way. Now when I find a list at The National Archives I have an overwhelming urge to DO SOMETHING with it. But what to do? And how useful would it be? I've recently come across a document with details of women who served as untrained nurses at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, during the second half of the nineteenth century; and just last week I came across nominal rolls of all the members of QAIMNS, the Reserve and the TFNS who went to France with the British Expeditionary Force in the autumn of 1939, and returned after the evacuation in May 1940. Would the time and energy taken in putting these lists online be worthwhile, and for whom? The Imperial War Museum has lists of all the women who served with the Scottish Women's Hospital, with place and date of service, hidden away from all but those who visit - I have copies, but are they generally useful? Of course the ultimate lists are the Royal Red Cross Registers at The National Archives. Now becoming over-used and fragile, they need proper indexing, digitising and removing from the reading rooms, but will it ever get done? I think there are about twenty thousand entries altogether, and compiling a proper database could keep me out of trouble for at least two or three years, but would anyone ever say thank you?


  1. Sue, you struck a chord or two here! My equivalent is "see a table", "create a database".

    Some time back we had brief words about a certain cathedral's listing of women's names. Well, got a transcription now, but it's not very accurate. But it has kick-started a new web site that i hope you'll be pleased to contribute to.


  2. Yes Paul, I do remember. Let me know when the website is available - I shall look forward to it. And I'm still here contemplating those same 'lists' four months later - I must get on and DO something!