Researchers baffled by World War I soldier’s shorthand diaries


William Reader’s diary, complete with shorthand notes

Two diaries, written in shorthand almost a century ago and donated by a local Old Comrades Association, have led researchers at York Castle Museum to make a public appeal for translators to help in understanding them.

Corporal William Reader, of C Squadron, 1st East Riding Yeomanry, is thought to have filled the books with notes and thoughts during the Palestine Campaign. Unfortunately, though, his writings have proved impossible to decipher.

Fascinating project

The soldier wrote his diaries during 1917 and 1918, but the museum says it has found ‘very little’ accompanying information about them.

‘This is such a fascinating project,’ said Alison Bodley, curator of history at the museum. ‘We have in our possession two diaries from nearly 100 years ago, but we can’t understand what has been written in them.

‘It would be fantastic if volunteers from the public could give us any insight as to the content of the diaries and tell us more about the shorthand itself.’

The journals will go on display as part of the museum’s exhibition 1914: When the World Changed Forever, which will open on June 28.

Email to help

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