Research- Guide to Resources
Researching the First World War- Guide to Resources
Resources in Poole History Centre
Poole and Dorset Herald
The newspaper is an invaluable resource. The local newspaper is a primary source, a first hand account of the time and provides a wealth of information. For example, information about individual servicemen- which sometimes includes a photo, letters from those in service, information about the community and their response to war and a local view of national events. The newspaper can be accessed in different ways- on microfilm, digitised files and printed files of significant events.
Some parish magazines from the Parkstone area published during the war are: ‘The Parkstone Reminder’ and ‘St. Osmunds parish magazine’.
We have a selection of reading material to aid research. This includes books about the Dorsetshire Regiment, the Queen’s Yeomanry, local war memorials, the Red Cross in Dorset and the cordite factory at Holton Heath. There are also books on how to trace your WWI ancestors and use military records.
A selection of First World War photographs are available to view.
Free access to this website in Poole History Centre allows access to a number of First World War resources:
England Census & Voter Lists
The census was first taken in 1801 and has been taken every 10 years (except 1941) ever since. Everyone should have been counted including those at sea, on canal boats, in barracks and in institutions.
The 1911 census is a valuable tool for researching families and life just before the war.
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
The Medal Index Cards collection is the most complete listing of individuals who fought in the British Army in WWI, containing approximately 90% of soldiers’ names. The Index Cards were created in order to keep in one place details about a soldier’s medal entitlement.
British Army WW1 Pension Records 1914-1920
This database contains service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who were discharged from the Army and claimed disability pensions for service in WWI. These were also men who did not re-enlist in the Army prior to World War II. Approximately 5 million men served in the British Army in World War One (WWI) and these records contain many of them, especially if they claimed a pension.
This is useful for tracing ancestors who did not die in WW1, if a record exists it often contains a wealth of useful information including previous addresses, next of kin and physical descriptions.
British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
This database contains the surviving service records of non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served in WWI and did not re-enlist in the Army prior to World War II. The British Army World War One Service Records are War Office (WO) records also known as the WO363 records and the ‘Burnt Documents.’ In 1940 there was a World War Two bombing raid on the War Office in London where the records were held. During this raid, a large portion (approximately 60 percent) of the 6.5 million records was destroyed by fire. The surviving service records have become known as the ‘Burnt Documents’.
Although many of these records suffered water damage following the bombing raid, all surviving service and pension records were microfilmed by The National Archives, where both collections are held, as part of a major TNA conservation project.
Absent Voters Lists
The 1918 General Election gave the right to vote to all men over the age of 21, women over the age of 30 and military personnel over the age of 19. To qualify they had to register before the 18th August 1918. The first list of Absent Voters was hastily compiled and published in October 1918 containing many errors. Servicemen were given a second chance to register and a second list was published April 1919. After this lists were published twice a year in Spring and Autumn.
The lists give a name, home address, military service number and regiment, battalion or name of a ship.
Absent Voters Lists are included in the Dorset Electoral registers found on Ancestry.
Poole at War
This site is dedicated to those brave men and women from Poole and the surrounding areas who gave their lives for their country. Name, rank, and memorial are recorded.
Poole History Online – Search for: events, by date, First World War
This is a free online database of photographs, documents and data relating to the local history of the Borough of Poole. First World War related material currently includes photographs and postcards. New information is uploaded regularly by volunteers.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Imperial War Museum – First World War
Recording your Research
Research can be a fun and sometimes frustrating journey. It’s a bit like being a detective, you need to follow clues and try to assemble a story when sometimes some of the pieces are missing.
One tip is to organise and plan your research- create a checklist of what to look at and try not to get side-tracked. Focus on a single line of enquiry at a time or things could get confusing.
Record the sources and documents that you have looked at carefully, this will prevent duplication and also allow anyone reading your notes to follow your processes.
If you're researching online, you may be able to download images of documents, or search results, and save them.
Back up your research, stories and speculation with recorded sources and original documents where possible. This will ensure your research is effective and allow people to understand how and why you reached your conclusions.