The official launch of the online Monica Roberts Collection took place on Thursday 16 October at 6.00pm in the Conference Room, Dublin City Library and Archive, 138-144 Pearse Street, D2.
Monica Roberts was a young upper-class woman who lived at Kelston, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin. Together with her friends, she set up a ‘Band of Helpers to the Soldiers’ during the First World War to provide gifts and comforts to men at the Western Front, who were members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers or the Royal Flying Corps. The group sent cigarettes and tobacco, socks and vaseline for tired feet, handkerchiefs, boot-laces, chocolate, peppermint, oxo and dried fruit. Monica Roberts included a letter with her gifts and the recipients replied to her, setting up a correspondence. The letters from the soldiers give a vivid picture of conditions at the Front, and also include comments on contemporary politics. The collection contains 453 letters from 56 soldiers, who are mainly from the lower ranks. Since 2005, the collection has been housed in Dublin City Library and Archive, as part of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association Archive.
Dublin City Archives would be particularly interested in hearing from descendants of those soldiers featured in the collection, or indeed from anyone holding letters from Monica Roberts to the soldiers; they can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. This online publication of the Monica Roberts Collection is a Dublin City Council project.