Collection RBSC-ARC-1744 - Martha May Beardmore collection

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Martha May Beardmore collection

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  • Textual record
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  • Variations in title: Also known as the Martha May Beardmore (née Wilson) collection

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Physical description

210 p. of textual records
1 hand drawn map
1 postcard

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Name of creator

(? - 1963)

Biographical history

Martha May Beardmore (née Wilson), was an English nurse who aided the British during World War I. She began her nursing career at the Metropolitan Hospital of London, England where she earned her proficiency medal. Her first nursing position was at the Sandringham Estate Hospital of King George Fifth. At the turn of the century she migrated from England to Canada and became a public health nurse in the East-at-the Quebec Bridge district. While there she aided members of the Kahnawake Mohawk nation, which led to them bestowing her the title of Princess of the Caughnawaga Indians. She then moved west to Regina and opened a private hospital.

While holidaying in England in 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Martha subsequently settled her affairs in Regina and joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. As part of the Military Nursing Service, she aided efforts in France and the Balkan countries. She also ended up in the Palace of the Tsar of Russia and became a nurse to Grigori Rasputin. She ended up moving to France and then Belgium where she worked under noted nurse Edith Cavell. At this point Martha May Wilson suffered from shell shock and was sent back to England.

After recovering from her shell shock she was appointed matron of the Stoke-on-Trent Hospital, where she was at the end of World War I. She was also called to Buckingham Palace by King George V who presented her with the Royal Red Cross for her nursing services during World War I.

Eventually she moved back to Canada where she fell ill and was admitted to the Winnipeg General Hospital. While in hospital she met her future husband, Harry Beardmore. The couple married and decided to move to Vancouver where she opened a hospital on Bute Street. She retired in Vancouver, though continued to aid in hospital efforts across the city.

After several injuries and a stroke, Martha May Beardmore died on October 20, 1963.

Custodial history

The majority of the collection was received from Mrs. Beardmore’s husband, however some fragments may be from other sources. Collection was part of the Woodward Memorial Collection until it was transferred to Rare Books and Special Collections in 2013.

Scope and content

The majority of the collection consists of over 200 pencil handwritten copies of Martha May Beardmore’s accounts of her work during the First World War in Serbia and Salonika. There are also notes on a presentation she attended, newspaper clippings, and fragmentary documents about the First World War. At the end of the collection is a covering letter from her husband, Harry Beardmore to the UBC librarian which gives some biographical information.

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Handwritten notes are arranged by subject. Arrangement inherited from Woodward Memorial Library.

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  • English
  • Russian

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RAD compliant finding aid compiled by M. Hunter, July 2015.

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