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.

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