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Remembering the First World War – Archives Blog

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At Home and Away: Remembering the First World War through records at the Archives of Manitoba

Visit this blog for regular posts about records at the Archives of Manitoba that date from the time of the First World War. Visit the Archives of Manitoba to see the records in person.

May 2015 Posts:

19 May 2015

Counting Down to the 100th Anniversary of Womenís Suffrage: The Political Equality League and the New Premier Arrange to Meet

Manitoba Liberal leader T. C. (Tobias Crawford) Norris was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage. When Norris became the premier in May 1915, one of the first letters he received was from the president of the Political Equality League asking him to meet with a deputation from the Political Equality League and other interested societies on the issue of women’s suffrage.

Dr. Mary Crawford wrote her letter to new Premier Norris on 12 May 1915. (This was the same day that former premier Rodmond P. Roblin resigned over the corruption scandal regarding the construction of the new Manitoba legislative building.) Crawford first asked to meet with the premier and then congratulated him on his new position.

Norris wrote back on 19 May 1915 to say that he would be pleased to meet with the suffrage deputation but asked them to keep the group small – ten or twelve at most – because of the size of his office! Norris allotted one hour for the meeting on 25 May 1915. Eight months later, legislation was passed in Manitoba to give women the vote.

The letters from Dr. Mary Crawford and Premier T. C. Norris are both from the Premier’s office files and are reproduced below.

letter from Dr. Mary Crawford to Premier T. C. Norris

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Archives of Manitoba, Premierís office files,
EC 0016, GR1665, 47. Meeting with Political
Equality League, 12 May 1915, G 528.

letter from Premier T. C. Norris to Dr. Mary Crawford

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Archives of Manitoba, Premierís office files,
EC 0016, GR1665, 48. Meeting with Political
Equality League, 19 May 1915, G 528.

Search Tip: Search “Political Equality League” in Keystone for more information.

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12 May 2015

“On Active Service”: First World War letters at the Archives of Manitoba

Today, in honour of Manitoba Day, the Archives of Manitoba is launching its second First World War display in the entrance area of the Archives of Manitoba. This display features letters written by soldiers serving at the front in Europe during the First World War.

During the war, letters sent to and from the front were the main form of communication between soldiers and their families and friends back home. Soldiers wrote letters from the trenches, from hospital beds and from training barracks. They wrote to mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, friends and sweethearts.

battered green military envelope postmarked 1916

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Envelope for letter sent August 1916, #629, Battershill family fonds, Archives of Manitoba

Many collections of letters from the First World War have survived and have been donated to the Archives of Manitoba. This display highlights letters and related records from six soldiers. They were selected to represent particular experiences of the war: enlisting in Manitoba, training in Canada and England, life behind the front lines, fighting in the trenches of France and Belgium and the declaration of armistice at war’s end.

Over the next months, we will be highlighting collections of letters held at the Archives in our blog posts.

Visit the Archives of Manitoba to see this display or to see other records related to the First World War. We are located at 200 Vaughan Street in Winnipeg, and we are open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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4 May 2015

British Empire Army Certificate of Identity for Civilians Wearing the Red Cross Brassard

The Manitoba branch of the Canadian Red Cross was organized in August 1914 with the primary goal of providing aid to sick and wounded First World War soldiers. The record shown here is a British Empire Army Certificate for Civilians Wearing the Red Cross Brassard. The certificate was issued to Mary I. Burns in London on 14 May 1915. Little else is known about this record, specifically how it came to be a part of the Manitoba Division records. Perhaps Mary Burns was from Manitoba, perhaps she later immigrated to Manitoba or perhaps her descendants did? If anyone can provide further information, please email us.

The Archives of Manitoba holds the extensive records of the Manitoba Division of the Canadian Red Cross. The record featured below is one of the earliest in the collection. There are approximately 25 metres of textual records, about 3500 photographs and a few films and audio recordings. The records document the organization from its beginnings in 1914 to the first years of the twenty-first century through decades of nursing, wartime enquiries, disaster relief, blood donation and transfusion and water safety.

Photo of document front. "Army Form W. 3051. British Empire. Army Certificate of Identity for Civilians Wearing the Red Cross Brassard."

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Photo of document back. Contains Mary Burns' physical description and photo.

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Archives of Manitoba, Canadian Red Cross – Manitoba Division fonds, World War I – “British Army Certificate of Identity for Civilians Wearing the Red Cross Brassard," Q 22164 file 15.

Search Tip: Search “Red Cross Brassard” or “Canadian Red Cross – Manitoba Division” in Keystone for more information.

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