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First World War treasures uncovered at the Castle Museum
Katie Brown, the Assistant Curator of History for the York Museums Trust with the First World War diairies that were discovered in a Castle Museum store.
A MYSTERIOUS First World War diary discovered in a forgotten box in the Castle Museum’s stores has sparked an appeal for help to decode the books.
Curators clearing out stores in the Castle Museum to make space for a new exhibition came across boxes of World War One archive material in the weeks before Christmas.
Among them were two previously unknown diaries - carefully handwritten in neat shorthand notes - but the museum has knows almost nothing of where the books have come from, or what they record.
Katie Brown, the museum’s assistant curator of history, said they were excited to find the diaries almost 100 years after they were written - but frustrated that they cannot understand what is written in them.
“It was a surprise to find them. We found a card with the diaries which says they are shorthand diaries of the Palestine Campaign in 1917-1918, written by Wass Reader of the 1st East Riding Yeomanry C Squadron.”
Now the museum is appealing for people to help shed light on the books.
“We don’t know what kind of shorthand it uses - it could be a military style - so we would love to hear from people with expertise in military shorthand. The name Wass Reader is very unusual, so if anyone recognises that name we would like to hear from them as well,” Katie added.
Curators want the diaries to take a place in Castle Museum’s exhibition “1914: When the world changed forever” , set to open on June 28, the centenary of assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Katie added: “It’s frustrating because we don’t know even really know when we acquired the diaries. We want to know whether this is a record of someone’s personal opinions on the war, or the mundane details of his day-to-day life.
“We want to know more about York’s links in the war as well, and these come from a local regiment.”
The diaries are even more intriguing because they come from the Palestine campaign, a part of the war that is not as well known as the European campaigns, she added.
Anyone who can help decode the diaries or shed light on Wass Reader and 1st East Riding Yeomanry C Squadron’s part in the Palestine campaign can contact Katie Brown on 01904 650363 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.