Hello, my name is Anna and I am a volunteer at Carmarthenshire Archives. Whilst working at the archive, I came across a scrapbook of documents belonging to a girl guide attending the Golden Jubilee of the Girl Guide Movement at Wollaton Camp, Nottingham, (c. 1960). These wonderful items, catalogued as DSO/115/6/4, describe a close friendship between British girl guides and the ‘guides’ of the Ukrainian Plast.
The creator of the scrapbook, Gillian Martin provides a detailed account of her experience at the Jubilee camp in her diary entries. These include her daily activities, the meals she ate and her thoughts and feelings over the course of the week. Her descriptions are enriched with hand drawn maps of the camp, the sleeping arrangements, alongside gifts of stamps and birthday cards from the Ukrainian girls. All of which makes for a charming collection and provides an illuminating history of the ‘guiding’ movement in Ukraine.
The collection includes a booklet given to Gillian commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Ukrainian Scouting which includes a history of the Plast, a Ukrainian youth organisation with parallel values to British scouting and was founded in 1911. Although Girl Guides was not officially established in Ukraine until 1994, the record suggests that the Jubilee camp welcomed the members of Plast. This booklet also provides a brief history of the Plast, which was forbidden under Soviet occupation in 1922 and outlawed by the Polish government in 1930. Yet the group survived both prohibitions and flourished among the youth of Ukrainian emigrants in the Displaced Persons Camps following the end of the Second World War. By 1960, Ukrainian young boys and girls could freely participate in Plast and celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1961.
Images, maps and gifts within Gillian’s Scrapbook
This hand drawn map of the Bingham Division Camp, called the Castle Division, shows several tents all labelled with their occupants, including a tent for the Ukrainian Plast members alongside Canadian and British guides. The girls, living is such close quarters, were likely involved in many activities throughout the week and developed strong friendships.
A photograph of four Ukrainian girls dressed in their national costume, three of the girls are identified as Alexandra, Oxana and Irene. Gilian wrote that the girls performed a dance for the camp. While this image is in black and white, the patterns of the Ukrainian girls’ dress is clearly visible, as are the flower crowns in their hair. The clarity of traditional Ukrainian dress in this image particularly demonstrates the variety of interesting records you could come across when exploring your local archive, whether it relates to your own local or foreign history.
While this birthday card clearly depicts St. George conquering the dragon, you may be surprised to discover that the card was given to Gillian by a Ukrainian guide. The text on the dorse of the card, written in French, English and Ukrainian states “Saint George Patron Saint of the Ukrainian Scouting”. St George is associated with the victory of Christianity over paganism and represents the core values of truthfulness, devotion to duty, bravery, honour, and helpfulness, which all scouts and guides observe.
A photograph of Alexandra, a Ukrainian ranger guide at a sundial in front of Wollaton House in Nottinghamshire, a Natural History Museum and the location of the Golden Jubilee camp.
Alexandra gifted two pages of vibrant Ukrainian stamps to Gillian. These stamps were printed in 1959, by Plast as a fundraiser. The stamps pictured is a part of a larger collection of 45 stamps, which represent 23 ethnographic regions of Ukraine. Each stamp depicts an easter egg decorated in the traditional pysanska technique of repeatedly dipping a hollow chicken egg in bright dyes and creating a pattern in bees wax, which, when the wax is melted away, reveal intricate designs which hold different meanings.
In the final pages of the record there is an image, taken covertly by Gillian, of seven girl guides sunbathing at camp in their undergarments. This quick snapshot illustrates the carefree, unjudgmental natures of these young women.
This scrapbook which details a girl’s experience at the Golden Jubilee reveals the close friendship that developed between the Ukrainian and British girls over the course of the camp. The document also provides a valuable piece of Ukrainian scouting history and in doing so deepens our understanding of the struggles of the Ukrainian youth group, Plast and demonstrates the remarkable spirit of the Ukrainian people.
If you are interested in finding out more interesting documents, or researching the history of Carmarthenshire, please visit our collection here: Our Collection (gov.wales).