I am pleased to welcome Debbie Marshall to Great War 100 Reads. I first met Debbie last summer at the Canadian Literature of World War One Conference. (Truth be told, I introduced myself after eavesdropping on a conversation about her blog on WW1 nursing sisters and sensing a kindred spirit on women’s history.) Her book, Give Your Other Vote to the Sister, was quickly added to my reading list. Debbie has kindly agreed to share some reflections about her work.
What was the biggest challenge in researching Give Your Other Vote to the Sister?
Debbie Marshall: Finding original archival materials. I was writing about Roberta MacAdams, one of the first women elected to a legislature anywhere in what was then the British Empire, but there were almost no records in either of the two major Alberta archives—the Glenbow and Provincial Archives of Alberta. Her family also had very few archival materials (although they did have her first speech in the legislature—that was wonderful). That meant I had to create my own collection. I went to the Public School Archives in the City of Edmonton and found loads of correspondence penned by Roberta during her years as a domestic science teacher. I contacted the descendants of her brothers and discovered more materials. The descendants of her sister also had photographs that I could use. I contacted Collections Canada and ordered her military records. The best find was a large cache of Great War correspondence by Roberta’s campaign manager, Beatrice Nasmyth. I also uncovered a pile of newspaper articles in which Roberta was quoted verbatim. Continue reading