The Glenside Hospital Museum has one original autograph book in their Collections, and scanned copies of two others. The books belonged to former nurses at the hospital.
Soldiers and members of staff contributed comic rhymes and verses, quotes from favourite writers and poets including Shakespeare, Coleridge, Tennyson and Omar Khayyam. There are also drawings and water colours.
The autograph books have been essential to our research. Medical records were destroyed in the 1920s, and many Military Service Records were lost in The London Blitz during the WW2. Fortunately for us, many of the soldiers signed their autographs with their names, ranks, and even military numbers. This information has allowed us to search online for any records which remain.
The autograph books of Sister Bertha Mary Williams.
Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service
These are two books of autographs dating from 1903-1920. The originals are in The National Library of Australia. Miss Williams was one of the first four Queensland nurses selected for the Australian Army Nursing Service who left for Britain from Brisbane on 24th September 1914.
Autographs include messages from English, Australia, Canadian, New Zealand and South African soldiers, reflecting the mix of nationalities who were treated at the hospital.
The autograph book of Agnes Mary Witts
We found Miss Witts’ autograph book in the archives of The British Red Cross in London. Miss Witts worked as a staff nurse and masseur in The First Birmingham Hospital and at The Beaufort from December 1916 until the end of the war.
The Bailey Autograph Book
This book was donated to The Museum by Judy Cording, whose grandmother Lilly Annie Bagg was a laundress at The Beaufort.