1939 Register online at FMP
FindmMypast in conjunction with the National Archives have published the 1939 Register for England and Wales. This Register is a very useful database for researching your ancestors as it goes some way towards bridging the information gap caused by there being no census records between 1922 and 1951.
Furthermore, the 1921 census is not due to be released until 2022. Extracts from the 1939 Register were previously only available by application to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, and then only for a deceased person.
At the outbreak of the Second World War the National Registration Act 1939 required a national registration of the civilian population of England and Wales as at 29 September 1939. The registration was needed to help to administer the issue of identity cards and ration books. The registration books are arranged in National Registration Number order and address. The Register reveals the whereabouts of the civilian population on a specific date. Serving members of the forces do not appear in the Register although members of the reserves auxiliary forces or civil defence services may be listed.
There are over 7000 volumes, each containing up to 2000 residences. Over 40 millions names appear. The information supplied was as follows:
- National Registration number
- First Forename
- Other Forename(s)/Initial(s)
- Date of Birth
- Marital Status
- Occupation, profession, trade or employment
- Membership of Naval, Military or Air Force Reserves or Auxiliary Forces or of Civil Defence Services or Reserves
The provision of a date of birth is extremely useful as this can narrow down the search for a birth certificate to a specific quarterly volume. In addition, because the register was updated at least until 1948, provision of the change of name following marriage will also help narrow down searches.
There are two downsides to the Register. The first is because of data protection; if a person would now be under 100 years old then the information is redacted (hidden). These entries will be reviewed regularly by Findmypast as time goes on. The other downside is that on launch it will cost £6.95 per household or £24.95 for a 5 household bundle (£4.99 per household). It does not form part of the normal Findmypast subscription.
Whatever the price, though, this is certainly a welcome additional of a new database for the family tree researcher.
Red Cross Volunteers in WW1
During World War One thousands of women and men joined the Red Cross to help the war effort and their records are now being made available online on a free database.
At the outbreak of hostilities the British Red Cross and the Order of St John formed the Joint War Committee. Members and volunteers of both organisations then worked under the emblem of the red cross. They joined Voluntary Aid Detachments and learnt first aid, basic training in nursing, cooking hygiene and sanitation. They worked in hospitals, convalescent homes, rest stations, supply depots, packing centres, in transport and air raid duties, and as work parties. They were from all classes and backgrounds.
Family history enthusiasts are now transcribing the personal record cards, known as VADs, of over 240,000 red cross volunteers. As of this date they have placed online the surname letters from A to R. The remainder will become available in the forthcoming months.
You can search at http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Who-we-are/History-and-origin/First-World-War.
The database is searchable by surname, first name, location/hospitals and role/duties. Obviously the first two are the principal search tools.
Electoral Registers on FMP
Find My Past have just announced the release of their largest single collection to date with over 5.4 million images of England & Wales Electoral Registers 1832-1932. These contain approximately 220 million names. Covering over 100 years these images are of microfilmed copies of printed registers stored in the British Library where they cover 2.25 miles of shelving.
These registers are listings of all those registered to vote in a particular area. The lists were created annually to record the names of eligible voters and their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property.
These registers should be useful for tracing your ancestors’ movements after the 1911 census.
Magna Carta Exhibition at Braintree Museum
Braintree District Museum are organizing an exhibition and a diverse programme of events to promote the important local context of the Magna Carta story, and to investigate what the local area was like in the late 12th – early 13th centuries.
The exhibition will be running at the Museum from 22 September 2015 until 30th January 2016 and they will be working in conjunction with Hedingham Castle to celebrate the role played by Robert de Vere. Exhibition highlights will include a newly commissioned reconstruction painting of Hedingham Castle in 1215 and an anniversary embroidery created by the Castle Hedingham Embroiderers Guild.
More information on the Braintree Museum website.
World War One – unit war diaries
World War One army unit war diaries are now available on Ancestry.co.uk
On Ancestry.co.uk are two new collections of regimental war diaries: France, Belgium and Germany, 1914-1920; and Gallipoli and Dardanelles, 1914-1916. If you know the name of the regiment your ancestor served in during World War One then you can now find out some background information on your relatives’ experiences during World War I. The war diaries include daily reports on operations from the Western Front and the Gallipoli Campaign. You’ll be able to find out where your ancestors regiment was and what it was doing at particular periods during the war.
The level of detail varies depending on who was filling in each diary – but at times you can read not only hour-by-hour accounts of some of WWI’s largest battles, but also accounts of day to day life under constant shelling, casualties, and mundane facts such as what the weather was like, and how morale was holding up. Names are mentioned, but the diaries are not indexed. That is the subject of an ongoing crowdsourcing project Operation War Diary.
Included in the diaries are those of the Essex Regiment.
Ordering Wills or Probate Records Online
The HM Government’s Probate Office for England and Wales has now altered the procedure for ordering Wills or Probate records (1858 to the present day). You can only order the documents online. It will cost £10.
Go to their Find a Will search page and enter the persons surname and year of death. It is not possible to enter any other search parameters. A search will return pages of the National Probate Calendar in which that person’s surname appears for that year. It may cover several pages. Go through the pages until you find the entry you are looking for. From this take the relevant details required for the ordering form which appears on the right of the probate calendar pages. Then click ‘add to the basket’ and pay.
If you are a member of Ancestry.co.uk, they have a far better search engine for finding Wills up to 1966. A great help if you are unsure as to the year or place of death. Once you have found it on there, you can revert back to the Probate Office’s search engine.
For information on how to research Wills before 1858, see our Wills before 1858 page.