Wednesday 26 December 2007

The Diary

Three months since the last entry - where on earth has that time gone? I've bee working fairly hard, and with the addition of Christmas have found that I had to give something a miss - hence, no Blog. So, an update.
In September I finished the transcription of the official war diary of the Matron-in-Chief, France and Flanders, the original document being held at The National Archives in class WO95. Many unit war diaries run to a couple of hundred pages at the most, but this is a truly massive document, with more than 3,600 pages and over a million words; perhaps it can be more easily understood as the length of about 13 average length novels joined back to back. There are not many official documents which outline the day-to-day life of nurses in France during the Great War, and this certainly seemed a great opportunity to make available information about the workings of the nursing services during the period. Publication in book form rapidly became a non-option; unless it was stripped and edited within an inch of its life, it would remain an unwieldy beast, and such an editing process would veer completely away from my original intention of making even the 'boring bits' available to all, leaving just its skeleton behind.

So I decided to put it online on my Scarletfinders website (link on the right-hand menu) and began the process of turning my Word document into web pages. Unfortunately this isn't a simple job of cutting and pasting from one into the other, but I've managed to work at a steady rate and am currently working on June 1917, so nearly three years down and a couple more to go. From the beginning of 1917 the content of the diary expands massively, so three years of the diary isn't even half the work, and it means a great deal more to come, but on the whole I'm happy with the way it's going. I've already received quite a few emails from people who are finding it interesting/helpful, and I hope it will become a useful resource for all sorts of different reasons. But if I am a bit quiet here, it's just a sign that I'm usefully occupied elsewhere!