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Frank Webster Furniss collection, 1917 - 1921

Reference Code: GBR/0269/DCPP/FUR

Scope and Contents

Colour copies of photographs, College postcards and (27) letters to and from Clarice Preston, during his time as a student at Downing College. Includes: postcard (2 Nov 1917) soon after Frank's matriculation, saying he had collected his OTC uniform and done his first parade the day before; (22 Jun 1918) description of OTC Camp at Mildenhall; (July 1918) describing helping to unload an ambulance train of wounded soldiers after the Red Cross asked for volunteers - 'We had to prepare over 100 stretchers (and then we had not sufficient)'; (29 Nov 1918) description of anatomy practicals with fellow female medics and a lecture (during which the end of the letter was written) by Professor of Anatomy, Alexander Macalister; (24 Jan 1919) letter including a sketch of his room in College and commenting 'The OTC has now become entirely voluntary and we have all been offered our discharge. About five of us have refused it though. As this war has dodged me (or I it - I don't know which) I am keeping in training for the next one which we will hope won't come off'; (5 Feb 1919) 'The worst has happened!', as coal ran out he contemplated burning a wooden gate for firewood and kept warm with a hot whisky shared by the Royal Navy officers staying in Downing. The letter also describes student recreational activities at the time, including ice skating and visiting his friend [Leslie Crisswell] Whitworth's home by motorbike (the next letter talks of sawing boughs of trees to ease the coal scarcity); (27 Feb 1919) re Soccer and Hockey colours, including Lent Bumps races; (30 May 1919) the impending exams and work to be done, including additional lectures from 9.15-10.15 in the evening, avoiding the lure of the sun shining and the 'gorgeous green tennis courts'. 'Lots of things have revived in College now with the return of so many ex-service men - in fact we are full up now and are only taking in people next year for either Law or Medicine'. Frank talks of the coming 'real prewar May Week', including the boat races, entertainments and dances, with a College concert in Downing, and a boat trip that afternoon with some friends for a bit of revision; (5 Feb 1920) description of the first post mortem he has attended, of a 67 year old woman; (15 Mar 1920) College football successes - Furniss's knee is suffering and he may have to give it up; (21 May 1920) (Field Marshal Douglas, 1st Earl) Haig and (Admiral of the Fleet, John, 1st Earl) Jellicoe had visited Cambridge to receive their honorary degrees, giving speeches at the Union Club and 'were both carried shoulder high from the Senate House'. Furniss hopes to receive College colours for Tennis, bringing his total to four sports; (31 May 1920) details of some of his exams, with more detail on the Human Anatomy paper and individual questions, which he found very hard. Includes copies of postcards showing the College c1917 (entrance, Fellows' Garden and Master's Lodge from the West Range, photographs of Furniss in OTC uniform and at matriculation or graduation, 'Cambridge Dragon Club' (sporting group including, 2nd from right, Rex Salisbury Woods), Boat Club (DCBC) group outside Boathouse with flag, possibly football team and picnic group (no names, including men and women). Also includes printouts of digital portrait photographs of Furniss in uniform and the 1917 matriculation photograph, sent by other relatives.


  • Creation: 1917 - 1921


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

Some records series are subject to confidentiality restrictions with the following closure periods: 30 years from date of creation for general administration files, legal records and financial files; 50 years from date of creation for governmental records, including papers of the College Governing Body and College Council, and constituent committees; 100 years from date of creation for personal and personnel records, including tutorial files, staff and fellows files and appointment records, personal finance and pension records. In addition sensitive correspondence and papers concerning College affairs such as disputes and disciplinary matters are closed for 100 years. Restrictions apply on some personal and private papers.

Conditions Governing Use

Retained by Furniss family.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Webster Furniss matriculated at Downing in 1917 - one of only eight new undergraduates. He joined the Officer Training Corps but was later discharged (medical students were exempt from service in early 1918 due to the number called up or killed in action) on the same day as he received his call up papers. He graduated from Downing College in 1920, completing his medical training at King's College Hospital in London. Afterwards, he married Clarice and returned to Sheffield, working in the hospital and as a GP on Whittingham Moor, where he was Medical Superintendent at Whittington Hall (caring for mentally and physically handicapped patients). During the Second World War he served with the Home Guard, St John’s Ambulance and Red Cross. He died in 1962.


1 file(s)

27 item(s) (27 letters)

9 photographic print(s) (9 photographs)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Originals loaned by Furniss family, Sept 2018, for copying.

Existence and Location of Originals

Furniss family - still on loan, Nov 2019.

Related Materials

DCHR/3/16 (transcripts of letters, donated April 2012)

Date information

DateText: Dates of images in postcards may date from several years earlier..


Furniss, Frank Webster (c.1900-1962) physician

Finding aid date

2019-03-04 16:22:24+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Downing College Repository

Downing College Archive
Downing College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB2 1DQ United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 762905