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Alice Welford WWI photograph album and military nursing lecture journal, 1911-1918

Identifier: 2010-064

Scope and Contents

A personal archive of a WWI military nurse stationed in Gibraltar and Malta during the Great War between 1913 - 1918. Captures a unique view of the fighting in the Mediterranean during such battles as the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 from the perspective of various nursing hospitals in Spain and Malta, but also includes images of soldiers in trenches. 2/3 of the photographs are accompanied by captions including locations, dates, and first or last names of individuals. Included is an image of the R.M.S. Mauretania, which was a troopship in the Gallipoli Campaign and later, until 1916, a hospital ship (H.M.H.S). Individual photograph list available, on request, to interested parties.

The lecture notes are detailed lessons in nursing, from specific ailments and their treatments to principles of surgery and care. An example entry: "Amputation (ordinary). Saw; Knife or scalpel; Bone press; Always turniquet." Also includes recipes for medicinal foods such as Diabetic Bread and Bread Jelly. Final entry is titled "Impressions of Malta," in which Ms. Welford writes; "The Maltese folk are small & dark, the sea is very blue; The streets go mostly up a hill, then go down it too; The ferry boats they pitch & roll in scarcely any sea; And the milk the natives get from goats is simply vile in tea."


  • Creation: 1911 - 1918



This material is open for research use by any registered reader.

Use and Copyright

This material is owned by the University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections. Unpublished manuscripts are under copyright. Therefore, permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from both the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Alice Welford was born in Crathorne, Yorkshire in 1887 and came from a long line of shoemakers. She began training as a nurse in 1908 according to an article about her written by members of her family. In 1910, she began training as a probationary nurse at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. The journal in the collection contains her notes from this training, as well as other notes she had added later on. At the end of October, 1913, she was advanced from Probationary status, and in November of 1914 she graduated 17th out of the 24 in her class.

She applied for a passport and to join the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Service. The QAINS was the Army nursing corps. In 1915, she appears to have served from February to at least April with Ambulance 4 at Hopital de Chateau Thierry, before being accepted into the QAIMNS(R) by June 1915, and being transferred to a military hospital at Europa Point, Gibraltar, where the photograph album begins, in June. We first see her with her friend E. M. Constable, aka “Connie,” almost certainly Sister Edith May Constable. Most of the images are described and some have specific dates. She has numerous pictures of the people she worked with and the patients. Some of the pictures she may have taken, others clearly she didn’t, for example the trench pictures that may be from Gallipoli.

In February of 1916 she was transferred to St. Ignatius Hospital in Malta (Connie was apparently sent to St. Andrews on Malta). There she served until being transferred to Salonika in July 1917, with a brief stopover in Egypt. The last hand written noted in her photograph album were in April 1917, and the last photographs were from Egypt. What is probably the last image made of Alice Welford, as she is dressed for traveling and is the final picture in the album. This would be July 1917, and was taken in the Garden at St. Ignatius Hospital, Malta, best before she was sent to Salonika. 2010-064-1-46-2. While at Salonika, her brother was killed at Arras.

In January 1918 she was transferred again, this time to Basra, arriving there on the 8th. A week later, on 15 January 1918, while en route to a welcoming dinner party at a place called Mohommerah, the motor launch she was riding in was sliced in two by a steam tug. Sister Alice Welford, two other nurses and a VAD drowned in the Shatt al-Arab waterway south of the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. She was buried there, in Basra, in the Makina Cemetery, Line G, Grave I.G.13.

There are several minor mysteries about this collection, not the least of which is why wasn’t this material with her autograph album which is now in the possession of the family. From the dating in the pictures, it’s possible that her effects were separated when she was transferred to Salonika. Interestingly, tucked in the album was a post card written to Sister Welford a few months after her death. Another mystery is why she stopped writing descriptions in the album after April 1917.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Collection shelved on 3rd floor.

Related Materials

Alice Welford's Autograph Book is in the posession of Welford's great-niece Valerie Watkins, and her husband Peter. They have written about it in Watkins P, Watkins VJ. Alice Welford (1887-1918), a nurse in World War I: The impact of kindness and compassion. J Med Biogr. 2015 May 29.


It should be noted that Welford frequently wrote in pharmaceutical notation.

Alice Welford WWI photograph album andh military nursing lecture journal, 1911-1918
Aubree Hayden; Amy Ziegler
2016 August
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2018-07-10: Adding description to the photograph album.

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections & University Archives Repository

McFarlin Library
University of Tulsa
2933 E. 6th St
Tulsa 74104-3123 USA
(918) 631-2496