Post Office employee records go online

By Matt Elton, 21 July 2011 - 9:33am

Genealogists tracing ancestors who worked for the Post Office may be able to learn more about their lives after the completion of a major digitisation project

Thursday 21 July, 2011
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A page from one of the appointment books in the new collection © Ancestry.co.uk/BPMA

Genealogists tracing ancestors who worked for the Post Office may be able to learn more about their lives after the completion of an extensive digitisation project.

The set of more than a million records, online at www.ancestry.co.uk, are taken from appointment books dating from 1737 to 1969 and have been digitised in partnership with the British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA). The documents were compiled to keep track of employees and list information on new workers, transfers, dismissals, resignations and deaths.

All of the entries can be searched by a range of details including name, date of appointment, grade or position and location of work. In some cases information about salary and recommendations are also available to view.

The Post Office formed an integral part of life in communities around Britain for generations, and by the start of the First World War was the single largest employer in the world with a workforce of nearly 250,000 people. The BMPA offers access to a range of resources for learning more about the lives of these employees, both at its headquarters in London and through its newly redeveloped website.

“We see the digitisation of these records as a crucial step in making the rich history of the Post Office available to everyone,” says BPMA’s head of archives, Gavin McGuffie. “For many years the records have been seen as a vital source for family historians, and now they can be accessed at the click of a mouse from homes across Britain and the rest of the world.”

The Post Office’s long history of employing women in a variety of roles means that these records may be of particular value for family historians eager to discover further information about their female ancestors. Among the celebrated names in the collection is Elizabeth Dickson, who was estimated to have walked 130,000 miles in her 30 years as a ‘non-established’ postwoman.

Florence Marie Cass, meanwhile, was awarded an MBE after the First World War for reactivating her telephone exchange after the power was cut by a nearby explosion. But it’s the chance to learn more about the everyday lives of thousands of people that will prove the main draw for researchers.

"It’s amazing how many of us have ancestors who worked for the Post Office, so these records are well worth a look for anyone researching their family tree,” says genealogist Jenny Thomas. “And whereas the employment of our female ancestors was so often undervalued in generations past and has often left scant records behind, female employees are well represented in this new release - a real treat for those lucky enough to strike gold."

 

TAKE IT FURTHER 

Explore the new records at www.ancestry.co.uk

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