Friday 14 February 2020

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.


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

Distance Transcriber.

This project was funded by Cheshire East Reflects.

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