(The following is a a follow-up to our Instagram series and blog posts on artifacts in the Peirs’ collection. It was written by Jenna Fleming, #teampeirs student assistant from 2014-2016 and currently a content contributor. Jenna is now an Assistant Archivist at the Rockefeller Archives Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY.)
This little red book doesn’t have much to do with Jack’s experience during the War. At most his military service contributed to his social status, which in turn helped him secure an invitation to this London society event – it was also attended by King George V and Queen Mary. However, something about holding this program gave me a sense of Jack’s life after the war and helped me to consider him as a person separate from who he was as a soldier. Based on an examination by conservator Mary Wootton and #teampeirs member and archivist Amy Lucadamo, it seems as though Jack did not connect closely with the church service or revisit the experience after 25 June 1930. The hand-tooled, goatskin binding remains extremely tight even after 88 years. Still, this program inspired me to think about Jack at 44, eleven years removed from his last days as a soldier, living his day-to-day life as a London solicitor.
Though his uniform is unfortunately no longer in existence, we are lucky to have Jack’s medals and other uniform decorations as part of the collection. Though he might not have worn his full regalia each day in the trenches, interacting with these items which travelled with him and saw so many of the places, people, and things he did is a powerful experience. While Jack did not often address the topic specifically, we know he was profoundly proud of his service to king and country and worked hard to be a good officer and leader to his men. Despite his sometimes cynical attitude towards titles and ranks, I believe that these physical manifestations of the honors he earned held significant meaning for him.