WW1 Records at a Glance

WW1 Records Infographic

WW1 Records at a Glance: Infographic by Natalie Pithers, Genealogy Stories, please credit with URL www.genealogystories.co.uk if sharing.

As well as searching the record sets in the above infographic you should also remember to:

1. Always Check the Card Catalogue

Ancestry and Find My Past both have a card catalogue. Search by title, keyword or filter / sort the data sets. Don’t assume that all the WWI records are included in the website’s main search function – or the military subset search.

For example, the invaluable Silver Medal Badge records on Ancestrycan only be searched by directly selecting the record set.

2. Don’t just search by name

If an initial search of your ancestors name doesn’t yield any results than try changing tactics.

Some of the records (pensions, soldiers’ effects) may contain details of next of kin. Don’t just search using your ancestors name; try spouses, parents, children.

Depending on the record you may also be able to search using regiment name or number.

Browse original records where possible. Make sure you’ve exhausted all the options before you decide your ancestor isn’t recorded.

3. Cross Reference

The Electoral Rolls indicated my Great-Grandfather was absent for voting. This was my first clue that he served during WWI.

His railway employment records told me that he had volunteered for service in 1914 and that he’d joined the Depot Middlesex Regiment.

The Electoral Rolls and the 1939 Register confirmed that he’d survived the war.

I was then able to search Pension and Silver Badge Medal records for my ancestor, and I knew I had the right ‘Pithers’ when I found him serving in the Depot Middlesex Reg and enlisting in 1914.

4. The National Roll of the Great War 1914 – 1918, Pals Lists, Trade Union Members etc

There are a whole host of records on specific groups of individuals – these might be registers by location, job, or union membership such as; British Trade Union Members, Service & Casualties, Manchester Employees Roll of Honour, London Volunteer Soldiers.

These smaller record sets are always worth checking and many are available on Find My Past.

5. Newspapers

Don’t just search by name. Try addresses. Regiments. Regiment numbers. Names of next of kin.

Lists of missing, wounded and killed in action were printed regularly. There were also newspapers that specialised in military action.

An excellent guide is available at the on British Newspaper Archives (BNA) blog.

You can search papers at the British Newspaper Archiveand Find My Past. Welsh papers are available free at theNational Library of Waleswebsite.

6. War Diaries

You might not find your ancestor named, but you can find out about his time during WW1 by reading the war diary of his unit.

Try Ancestry and The National Archives (TNA). The TNA also has a guide here.

7. Quick Links


Red Cross ICRC

The National Archives

British Newspaper Archives

National Library of Wales