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British Red Cross archives collection online for first time


The British Red Cross has made its archives collection available online to the public for the first time, as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2020.


The organisation helps millions of people in the UK and around the world get the support they need if crisis strikes and holds 56,000 items related to this work dating back to 1870.


Artefacts from World War I & World War II

In the process of digitising thousands of artefacts, the charity’s Heritage Team unearthed several unusual items, including a prisoner of war ‘blower’ used to heat and cook food parcels sent to PoW camps in WW2, and Agatha Christie’s volunteering record card from WW1, giving details of the author’s service at Town Hall Red Cross Hospital in Torquay.


The collection, which is housed in Moorgate, London, is one of the largest of any Red Cross national society in the world. The items have been placed online where the public can search for items by colour and create shortlists of their favourite objects. So far, researchers can search or browse nearly 29,000 items online, with more objects and documents being added regularly.


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Connections to key historical figures

British Red Cross Heritage Manager Dr Alasdair Brooks said: ‘This is a brilliant opportunity to share our internationally important collection, which includes a range of both wonderful and weird objects. 


‘We can see from these items alone how our First Aid advice has drastically changed over the decades, why Red Cross neutrality has been a fundamental principle of our work through the world’s major conflicts, our connection to key historical figures and our unique relationship with the Royal Family.  We hope the database will provide the public with the opportunity to learn how our work is as vital today as it has been for the past 150 years.’


The new British Red Cross online collections database can be explored here.


Image: © British Red Cross Museum and Archives.



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