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Elsie Inglis First World War Letters from Serbia and Reni (1915, 1917)

Dr. Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) was a surgeon and Licentiate of the three Scottish royal medical colleges, as well as a suffragist. Born in India, she came to Edinburgh with her parents when very young. She trained in Edinburgh and at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow, working to improve maternity facilities and healthcare for women. She founded a maternity hospital in Edinburgh (1901) staffed only by women. During the First World War she founded the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service after her offer of a ready-made medical unit staffed by women was turned down by the Royal Army Medical Corp. Around 1500 women served with the SWH in France, Russia, Greece, Corsica and Serbia, in 14 mostly all-female staffed medical units.

Elsie Inglis was the first woman to be awarded the Order of the White Eagle, the highest decoration given by Serbia. Elsie passed away in November 1917, the day after her arrival back in the United Kingdom from Russia.

These letters were donated by Elsie's family and relate to her work with the SWH units she headed in Serbia (1915) and Odessa, Russia (1917). Although a small collection, the letters - mostly sent to family - reveal much about the patients and people Elsie encountered, and the work and hospital facilities available to the SWH units. 

Please note that the letters include transcriptions, with the exception of the typescript letter.