There's no getting away from my great aunt Maud, who once again provides me with the perfect material for this week's post. Maud is in the middle row, first left of this group. You will remember that last week she took centre stage in the guise of Britannia; this week she is more soberly dressed, as befits her position in the Labour Corps Records Office, in Carrington Street, Nottingham. The letter she received when she started there has been handed down to me, but it it is in a very fragile state, having first been folded into an envelope and then mended with sticky tape which has left a brown residue in the folds. The letter is typed in purple ink, which makes it even harder to read, so here's the transcript:
With reference to your application for employment in this office as a Clerk, you are engaged from April 30th 1917 on the following terms and conditions:-
The hours of work (for the present) will be 43 hours per week, from 9 a.m. to 12.45 and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays from 9 a.m to 1.15 p.m.
The rate of pay is 19/- for a week of 43 hours with a 2/- a week War Bonus, The week commences on Saturday morning and ends on Friday Evening.
Any absence which is not supported by a Medical Certificate, will be deducted for.
You are employed by the Government and subject to the Official Secrets Act.
A week's notice given on a Friday before 6 p.m. on either side may end your employment.
Signed by Capt. Collins for Colonel i/c Labour Corps Records and stamped Labour Corps Records Nottingham 2 May 1917.
This is interesting from the point of view of the hours worked and the rate of pay. I don't see any references to a tea break, though I'm sure there was some sort of refreshment; the hours were long, but there was a war on after all.
The other people in the photograph aren't named, but I do know a little bit about them. The job might have been serious, and probably deadly dull, but I think friendships were formed with some interesting characters. How do I know this? Because Maud kept an autograph book which has also come into my possession. I whetted your appetite I hope, when I wrote the first post about her in January, Where Was Maud? and mentioned it in passing. I'm sorry you've had to wait so long for me to reveal some of the contents. Most of the entries are from 1919 -1922, when there was still much work to do with demobilisation, and Maud obviously wanted to remember some of her colleagues, and a few are from 1926-1928. They range from serious poems and famous quotations, to witty aphorisms, alongside delicate sketches and watercolours, intermingled with cartoons and pasted scraps of maps. The Labour Corps Records Office rubber stamps appear on several pages, providing both verification of the autographees and an idea of some of the work that had to be done.
"Not entered on Medal Roll" states one stamp - "Being surplus to Military requirements (Having suffered impairments since entry into the Service.) Para 392 (XVia) K.R." Some office wag obviously thought it would tickle Maud to remember this years later! I wonder which one in the photograph it was. Click on the images below to enlarge and view in a light box slideshow. To see more visit my Flickr Set, Great Aunt Maude's Autograph Book.
A note about Sepia Saturday
This week's Sepia Saturday has family bibles, inscriptions in books and perhaps other written ephemera as a prompt. I put together a montage of photos from two of our Sepia Saturday Facebook members as requested (now that I am joint administrator of the blog, as well as the Facebook page I take my duties very seriously) but I have no family bible of my own to write about, so I was delighted when Maud came to the rescue again. Alan and I are keen to include more material from contributors as prompts, so please get in touch with ideas. We are also going to be 'refreshing' the blog/meme in the run up to the 200 posts milestone, and I'll be canvassing opinion through the Facebook page, so please keep an eye open on there.
In the meantime, see what other contributors found in dusty tomes, weighty volumes and secret diaries, or join in with some of your own.