Reading from the Archives: Out of the Mouths of Babes

For our next Reading from the Archives session, we have a special Family Friendly theme featuring documents written by children. We have once again delved into our collections to uncover the words of children from the pages of our documents, and bring them to life.

Here is a sneak peek at a couple of the documents we will be looking at during our brand new session.

Around 1855, young Moses Frosdick wrote a two sided letter (NRO, MC 392/10-11, 726X2) to his uncle in his very best joined up handwriting. He opens with a standard formal greeting:

Dear Uncle

I now take up my pen to send

you a few lines and I hope they Will

meet you quite Well as thank God

they leave me at present…

Moses Frosdick wrote a two sided letter (NRO, MC 392/10-11, 726X2)

Moses tells his uncle that his little brother and sister have whooping cough, although his original spelling of the disease ‘huppen couff’ is a charming spelling error (corrected by someone afterwards, although they are still missing the ‘h’) and gives us a glimpse into the Norfolk accent Moses would likely have had.

We learn a few facts about Moses, including that he is seven years old this Christmas, he likes going to school and the ‘wether is very cold’. He also tells us uncle ‘I am keeping crows being a sponseble fellow’.

After signing off his letter ‘your affectionate nephew Moses Frosdick’ he adds the poignant line, ‘this is the first letter I have attempted to write’.

Around 1855, Moses Frosdick wrote a two sided letter (NRO, MC 392/10-11, 726X2)

Another of the documents in the Reading from the Archives session is a letter contained in the collection of John Hastings Turner called ‘An Unimportant Chronicle’ written Sep 1939 – May 1945 (NRO, MC 2333/1/5, 691X9). The letter is written by Ursula, daughter of Hastings Turner and Laura, his wife. Ursula describes the journey taken by her and sister Ann to stay with family, and their experience there during the Second World War. Also included amongst the pages are newspaper cuttings and printed leaflets produced during the war, with comments by Hastings Turner.

Ursula’s letter talks about her train journey from Hunstanton to London and the people they met along the way. Here is her introduction.

Volume 5, An Unimportant Chronicle: the Second World War diaries of John Hastings Turner. NRO, MC 2333/1/5, 691X9

82 Halford Road

Hillingdon

Middlesex

My Dear Mummy and Daddy,

                                It was a

very long journey from Hunstanton to

London. We had a carriage to ourselves

to begin with, then a little

evacuee boy came in all by himself

and was but in Aunt’s care, his name

was John.  Then later on some Air Force

men got in our carriage two sat down

and one stood up in the corridor

then he sat in the same seat

as me so I was squashed in

the corner.  Ann and I slept in

the same room at Mrs Hoppkins. In

the morning we went to the station

and got in a little red train.

The rest of the letter from Ursula to her parents talks about how Nan had shown them their air raid shelter, and how she and Ann had fought over the bedclothes while sharing a bed together. It is an important first hand account of a child’s experience of being displaced during conflict.

Once we have hosted this new Reading from the Archives event on 13 April, it will be available to watch in full on our YouTube channel, along with previous Reading from the Archives sessions and much more content from the Norfolk Record Office.

We hope you have enjoyed this taster of the session to come, and if you would like to book a place at join us on 13 April, head to the events page of our blog.

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