May 5th, 2010

Obsession

Method of Military Death Notification in Late 1800s England

TIME: During the Second Boer War (1899-1902)
PLACE: London, England
GOOGLED: "next of kin" + "notification" + "military"; "casualty notification" + "military; "casualty notification" + "history"; "death notification" + "history"

I need to find out how a surviving family member would have been informed of a loved one's death at war (in the above time/place, c. 1900 London). My educated guess would be by telegram, as I believe that's how all notifications were done through at least WWII, but I may be incorrect about that (or that may have only been the case in the United States). Actual text of the notification isn't necessary (though it would add a phenomenal detail to my story); I'm looking more for a general answer of "by telegram"; "by post"; "they'd send an officer"; etc. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give me.

(Also, I strongly doubt it matters, but in case it does: it's irrelevant to the story whether the character died in battle or from injuries/illness, so even if you only have information for one of those situations, that would still be perfect.)
FlyingMachine

Flail Chest Question

I've researched flail chest quite a bit, and have most of the information I need. But I couldn't find any answers as to how long it would take before he could be released from the hospital. I've found total healing time, but I assumed he would leave the hospital before he was completely healed. How long would be be likely to stay in the hospital for? Also, what would he have to do to help heal once he had left the hospital?

To be more specific, the character is a thirty-year old male, no smoking habits, does drink alcohol but has only drunk alcohol a couple of times in the last five years, and he got flail chest through a very severe beating from some other guys.

As a side note, what would be possible complications caused by flail chest, even when he has mostly healed up? Would any of these be able to occur for many years without killing him? Thought I should ask, since the story spans about twenty years, and I couldn't find many answers to this, either.
matcha

Musical Education in Late(ish) Soviet Russia

I am writing a story about two girls attending Leningrad Conservatory in the 1950-1970. One is a violinist, one is a pianist. Both perform exclusively classical music.

I want to know what their lives would have been like. How old would they have been when they entered the conservatory? How hard would they be worked? What kind of non-musical education would they have received? Where would they have slept? Would they be treated very well for their skill, or would they feel overworked, or overly-controlled or... something else unpleasant?

Basically, I am trying to imagine a back story for a couple of real people I knew only as adults. I know they emigrated to the US as adults (in the 70s), but I don't have a clear picture of what their lives must have been like in Russia that made them want to leave.

I have searched google and wikipedia using terms like: russia music conservatory history soviet union communism leningrad conservatory moscow conservatory culture classical music. I've gotten a lot of articles, but almost all are either about specific musicians (mostly Shostakovich, who is too early for me) or they are simply too vague. Or they talk about experimental composers and rock musicians being censored, but these girls were at the state-run conservatory, performing classical music, so it seems unlikely that cencorship would have been a major issue.