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Friday, 14 February 2020

Absent Voters' Project—Katherine's rare and unusual ranks

After running for the past six years, with 1000's of hours of work put into it, we have finally completed an amazing project and are ready to share the results with you. The Cheshire First World War Servicemen's Index Spring 1919 Absent Voter's Lists online (or Absent Voter's Project for short) is now complete! The 1918 and 1919 Absent Voters' lists are an invaluable resource for anyone seeking ancestors serving in the First World War. Absent Voters' lists give names and addresses, details of individuals' service, service number, unit or ship. With the help of volunteers, these lists have been transcribed and are fully searchable.
You can find the site here and a walk through of how to use the site is on our YouTube channel here. These coming blogs are written by our volunteers who made this possible and give an insight into what they enjoyed about the project.

Working on the Absent Voters Lists for 1919 has immersed the volunteers in the world of the men and a few women, who were registered to vote during the First World War but who were not at home to do so. The database records names, addresses, ranks, regimental numbers and units for members of all the forces. This means that it should also be possible to search not just for the family member you are researching but other force members in their household at the time. Some families I transcribed sent three or four sons to war.


A section of the absent voters list showing three males from the same family in the military.
Three of the same family sent to war

Between the Cheshire Archive volunteers thousands of entries have been transcribed. Some of the most common ranks in Cheshire feature Private, Corporal, Lieutenant, Able Seaman, Air Mechanic and Gunner whilst the rarer ones are Artist, Writer and Bandsman. Some of the common units feature the Cheshire Regiment, Royal Engineers, Royal Field Artillery, Royal Garrison Artillery, Royal Army Medical Corps, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. The less common ones that I transcribed were the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, a camel corps and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The women, numbering less than five, that I transcribed, were nurses or matrons in the Royal Army Medical Corps. An overview of the Cheshire lists shows the enormous range of ranks and units from every corner, offering insight into the enormous contribution made by our county.  


A screenshot of the absent voters' website showing the details of a nurse serving in the war.
A nurse's details are listed


Being part of the Absent Voters project has been fascinating. Hopefully the newly transcribed records will provide vital information for anyone interested in researching a family member who served a hundred years ago, in the Great War.   


This project was funded by Cheshire East Reflects.

Absent Voters' Project— Mike and Military History

After running for the past six years, with 1000's of hours of work put into it, we have finally completed an amazing project and are ready to share the results with you. The Cheshire First World War Servicemen's Index Spring 1919 Absent Voter's Lists online (or Absent Voter's Project for short) is now complete! The 1918 and 1919 Absent Voters' lists are an invaluable resource for anyone seeking ancestors serving in the First World War. Absent Voters' lists give names and addresses, details of individuals' service, service number, unit or ship. With the help of volunteers, these lists have been transcribed and are fully searchable.
You can find the site here and a walk through of how to use the site is on our YouTube channel here. These coming blogs are written by our volunteers who made this possible and give an insight into what they enjoyed about the project.

LOOKING FOR A FIRST WORLD WAR SERVICEMAN'S RECORD?

When you first start to researching your ancestors military history during WWI, why is it so difficult to obtain their official service records? The conflict took place just over one hundred years ago; so surely these documents would be the most detailed set of records of an individual that you will find anywhere! Unfortunately even the resources of the modern internet do not provide this facility. The truth is that most soldiers’ service records dating from the First World War were sadly destroyed by Luftwaffe raids on the old Public Record Office during the London blitz. Only a few records survived the bombing and fire damage caused to the record office. Consequently information on ordinary servicemen’s files is very limited.

A section of an absent voters page, showing printed info and extra annotations
A sample of the extra information you can find in the lists

 
My Grandfather served as a soldier during the Great War of 1914 - 1918, but I had no information to start with; apart from his known address. I began my search with the Absent Voters List (AVL) at the Cheshire Record Office, and this document provided me with his rank, service number, unit and division in which he served. Eureka! This was the start of an unimaginable story of a hero. That is why I volunteered to help with transcribing the Absent Voters List.

Teaming up with other distance transcribers working on this project unlocks priceless data for both amateur and professionals alike. In the pursuit of military, family, and local history studies it has become a valuable asset as an online research tool.

A photo of Mike
Mike


Mike
Distance Transcriber.


This project was funded by Cheshire East Reflects.

Absent Voters' Project— Tina's Experience

After running for the past six years, with 1000's of hours of work put into it, we have finally completed an amazing project and are ready to share the results with you. The Cheshire First World War Servicemen's Index Spring 1919 Absent Voter's Lists online (or Absent Voter's Project for short) is now complete! The 1918 and 1919 Absent Voters' lists are an invaluable resource for anyone seeking ancestors serving in the First World War. Absent Voters' lists give names and addresses, details of individuals' service, service number, unit or ship. With the help of volunteers, these lists have been transcribed and are fully searchable.
You can find the site here and a walk through of how to use the site is on our YouTube channel here. These coming blogs are written by our volunteers who made this possible and give an insight into what they enjoyed about the project.

My name is Tina and I have been volunteering on the Absent Voters project for 2 years. As a qualified archivist I always get involved in as many projects as I can but I also have a keen interest in history of the World Wars and have volunteered on projects such as the Merchant Navy Crew List transcription project and Operation War Diaries, so this project really appealed to me.

A photo of Tina
Tina

I have submitted entries for mostly the Wirral parishes, starting with Irby, where I live. I was struck by the socio-economic information the pages offer for their parish. For example, Thurstaston had very few entries and there were several Officers, compared with larger towns where there many more entries with a wide variety of ranks, but a lot of Privates and Labourers

It was interesting spotting a few women included in the list serving in nursing roles such as Laura Ellen Tuson of Silverdale Road, Lower Bebington who was serving in an auxiliary hospital in Myrtle Street Liverpool, and Violet Baxter of Thornburn Road, New Ferry, who was serving at 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham.

I've enjoyed learning all of the units and regiments and ranks/roles in the British Armed Forces and seeing the wide variety of units Wirral and Cheshire men entered.

Cecil Arbuthnot St George Moore's absent voter entry
Cecil Arbuthnot St. George Moore


There were also some fantastic names. Cecil Arbuthnot St. George Moore, a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, was just one that I couldn't help researching further.


This project was funded by Cheshire East Reflects.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Game, set and match!

With the Australian Open Tennis Championships in full swing and Six Nations Rugby about to begin, we’ve been inspired to look at sport-related items at Cheshire Archives and Local Studies.  We are fortunate to hold archive material from sports clubs across the county, featuring items from athletics to yachting (we don’t have any sports beginning with Z!)  This includes photographs of people taking part in everything from tennis and rugby to early examples of gymnastics and even roller-hockey.  In addition, Cheshire Image Bank is a collection of over 30,000 digital images of Cheshire people, places and events from anywhere that lies, or once lay, within the county boundary.  It can be viewed and searched online at www.cheshireimagebank.org.uk and the web site is a treasure trove for images of sport.

  As tennis and rugby have prompted us to look through our sporting records, here are some Cheshire Image Bank photographs of each of those sports.  They show members of the Alexandrea Park Tennis Club in Hoole, Chester, during the 1930s (reference: P1620) and an early picture of Runcorn Rugby Football Club in the 1890s (ref: C02914).

Football is recognised as this country’s most popular sport, and many people remember photos of their school football team - this one from the Image Bank will surely prompt some memories.  It is of Blacon Junior School football team in Chester, from 1954 (ref: CH 9243).  There are many different football teams featured on the Image Bank and in our archives, but this one comes from Birkenhead Police, taken in 1923 (ref: D 7271).



We hold a much earlier record relating to football as well.  This document (ref: EDC 5/1608/70) is from Consistory Court papers of 1608, and concerns a libel case brought against a John Loram and a John Howell for playing at football in the churchyard at Dodleston on Easter Monday with brawling and fighting.




For those who don’t read seventeenth century English, it is just possible to make out the words football, Dodleston, quarrel and brawl! 

 

 
It could be argued that cricket is the UK’s national sport.  As well as items such as team photographs and fixture lists, our cricket-related collections include these rules from Shrigley Vale Cricket Club in 1872 (ref: D 6265/37). We like rule number five which declares “that no fielder be allowed to lie down, or smoke during a game” as well as rule 10, “that any member swearing, using coarse language, or making himself disagreeable by his conduct on the field, shall be fined sixpence”.  Similar rules and etiquette can be found in some of our golfing records: this handbook from Prestbury and Upton Golf Club in the 1950s recommends the strict observance of a list of “unwritten laws” which “marks the finished Golfer and adds to the pleasure of one and all on the Links” (ref: 229413).



            


Athletics seems to have been popular for many years.  This 1899 programme from the Alexandra Athletics Club of Crewe celebrates their twenty-third annual athletic festival, and shows that the club was founded in 1866 (ref: 221494). We have various photographs of athletes: this early 20th century one is of Middlewich Athletics team - the number of medals some of the members are wearing suggests they were quite successful! (ref: D 7164) 

 
Other team photographs include these from a scrapbook of the Royal Chester Rowing Club (ZCR 419/3).  The one on the left is the club's 2nd VIII taking part in the North of England Head of the River Race in March 1957, on the River Dee.  We also like the one on the right, an old car loaded with a canoe captioned 'Henley 1937'.  Members of the rowing club certainly took part in the Henley Regatta - but whether that car was driven there from Chester, we do not know!
Amongst the records of the Knutsford Gas and Waterworks Company there is archive material related to horse racing at Knutsford.  This race card, giving details of the horses in each race and the jockey colours, is from 1854 (ref: D 4222/25) - and the photograph featuring the racecourse grandstand dates from the 1870s (ref: D 4222/26).
We also have photographs of some more unusual sports.  This is the Neston Quoits Team, photographed in 1895 (ref: D 6278/1).  And the impressive displays on the right (ref: CH1720) are by the Gymnastic Group of the Cheshire Regiment, photographed in 1902.
Along with many early photographs of men’s sports, we were pleased to find some of women’s teams as well.  A favourite is this one taken in 1915, of Widnes Ladies' Swimming Club (ref: C00344).



And finally, this picture taken between 1900 and 1909 is of the ladies roller-skating hockey team at the Empire Rink in Widnes (ref: C00342).  Roller-skating in those Edwardian dresses must have been quite a challenge!



Records relating to a range of sports can be searched in the Cheshire Archives and Local Studies catalogue on our web site at http://catalogue.cheshirearchives.org.uk/calmview/ and can be viewed in our search room in Chester.  And for any local football fans, there will soon be a new exhibition in our search room display case.  From 4th February 2020, it will feature archive material from Chester City Football Club going back to the 19th century.  Why not come in and take a look?