Leeds University Library
Our website is changing

The Library website is changing. Our new website will go live at the start of semester 2.

Hidden treasure from the trenches

Published 16 April 2012

A bible from the Liddle Collection containing a piece of shrapnel

A trainee archivist's amazing discovery in the Liddle Collection

Recently Helen, a trainee archivist, came to Special Collections on a cataloguing placement. Her choice to study at the University of Leeds ended up bringing an unexpected perk!

We wanted to give her the opportunity to explore the full range of our collections and see at first hand the unusual and unexpected treasures they can contain. However, we did not realise she would make such a personally significant discovery.

When introduced to some World War One material from the Liddle Collection, she mentioned that her grandfather, a writer, had been a chaplain in the Gallipoli campaign. Naturally the next step was to search the Catalogue for his name. There were several results for "Ernest Raymond", including records for a bundle of his letters to Peter Liddle about his war novel Tell England, and letters about the war from Ernest's wife (Helen's grandmother).

Even better, we discovered that Ernest had been interviewed by Peter Liddle and that a recording of his voice was on tape. This was particularly significant as Helen never knew her grandfather and had never heard his voice. We made a copy for Helen, and now her family has its own piece of history to pass on to future generations. 

Helen's fascinating and serendipitous discovery demonstrates the unique power archives have to put people in touch with their past. Search the collections to see if you can unearth any treasure of your own.

The Liddle Collection contains personal papers of over 4,000 people who lived through the First World War.

We can make CD copies of tape recordings in the collection, as well as copies of letters and other material. Contact us with any requests, or view our guidelines and pricing.