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We all know the story of the First World War Christmas Day football match, we have all seen the recent popular supermarket Christmas advert depicting the event and we have all hummed along to Paul Mccartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’. These romanticised versions can often hide the fact that the First World War, whilst massive in scale, was a very personal event; impacting on every city, every town, every factory, every business, every family in the county.

British World War I postcard of 1914
British World War I postcard of 1914 © UIG History / Science & Society Picture Library

The Science Museum, only officially formed in 1909, did not escape the horrors of war. Working in the Museum’s Records and Archives Department I am privileged to study and view some of the Museum’s oldest documents. Recently I stumbled upon one of the first Science Museum Staff Orders – an old school version of a staff wide email. The personal and heartfelt nature of this Christmas message touched me.

letter
Science Museum Staff Orders, 1914

A colleague of mine asked “what are the numbers at the bottom?” That is the date of the order – 23rd November 1914. Of course back then there was no Ebay or Amazon for next day delivery! So Christrmasing early was a must. The Staff Order is a timely reminder of the true nature of Christmas; being thankful for what we have and loving those nearest to us no matter how far away they maybe. Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas.

Rory Cook is a Corporate Information & Enquiries Officer.