Underage Soldiers
Case Notes: Sensitive Correspondence in Wartime


A researcher based in the Midlands, and unable to travel to London, contacted me with a view to exploring the personal correspondence of the Liberal MP Sir Arthur Basil Markham, preserved in the archives of his sister Violet Markham at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

A thorough telephone discussion narrowed the brief to identifying letters and other papers that documented Markham’s involvement in a campaign to put a stop to the recruitment of underage soldiers in WW1—a dubious practice that was apparently rife. A search of the LSE catalogue identified one file that was certainly of interest and several others that appeared worthy of consideration.

In the event, research produced some exciting results. I provided a report that listed the references for each file I consulted, together with supporting notes that précised the contents and indicated whether, in my judgement, the papers were of relevance or not to the matter in hand. The file that looked to be relevant did indeed turn out to be of much interest; it was relatively slim but contained items of Markham’s in-coming correspondence that shed much light on his efforts to end the scandal of underage recruitment.