Medical care and charitable organisations in World War I

The First World War was marked by an unprecedented technicisation of warfare and infrastructural developments which shaped Europe for decades to come.However, it was also a heyday of medical science and charitable efforts. The centenary of the end of the war in 2018, in particular, has drawn public attention to non-military services in wartime societies, and these services were often performed by women.
The Letters 1916-1923 project gives an insight into the various fields of female engagement. Apart from letters by WWI nurses and members of Voluntary Aid Detachments, our database contains correspondence relating to fundraising as well as the production and distribution of supplies for soldiers at the front.

One of our major collections is the Marie Martin correspondence, a series of letters exchanged between WWI medical volunteer Marie Martin and her mother Mary. Marie’s letters give us a personal insight into life in field hospitals.
The war efforts of women who did not leave Ireland, on the other hand, are illustrated in Lady Clonbrock’s correspondence with family members, female acquaintances, and soldiers who profited from her charitable activities.
Furthermore, the Letters 1916-1923 project has assembled letters written by women involved in the Irish War Hospital Supply Depot. It is our aim to present and analyse this correspondence with a view to changing gender roles and social hierarchies. Maps and network diagrams can help us bring the achievements of individuals as well as the collective impact of female volunteering to light. Therefore, we have created a zoomable map of Ireland which highlights war hospital supply depots and sphagnum moss collection centres. We also invite the public to share their family histories with us.
War hospital supply depots and sphagnum moss collection centres in Ireland (1916-1919), mapped by Dr. Padraig MacCarron. Click image to enlarge and zoom.
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