Friday, 22 August 2014

WW1 British army officers' records catalogued

The National Archives at Kew has announced that some 140,000 army officers records from post-1913 have now been catalogued, and can be searched by name via Discovery (in category WO 339). Cataloguing work took place over three years by The Friends of the National Archives.

The full story is at


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks


  1. I hate sounding like an ungrateful so-and-so but I'm less than impressed with the clarity of TNA's announcement on this. Seems to me that, contrary to what they write, you *cannot* search WO339 for the record. All you can do is search the catalog. If I were able to search WO339, I would expect to have digitised WO339 records available online. As it is, I have to order copies from TNA because they've *not* been digitised at all.

    Don't get me wrong - this is an advance but it would have been helpful to make it clear from the start that you can only get as far as the catalog online.

  2. Actually I disagree on this! It has often been the way that records have been catalogued to item level or name level long before they have eventually found their way online in a digital equivalent - the many census transcriptions and FreeBMD projects being very high profile and early examples, but also some of TNA's military collections. It should also be noted that is was not work done by TNA at all, but by volunteers via its Friends group.

    I think there is fast becoming a danger that digitisation is becoming the be all and end all of the online genealogy world. Knowing something exists in the first place is much more important than simply being able to access it online, so I would prioritise cataloguing efforts much more in advance than digitisation. Compare the situation in the Republic of Ireland - the National Archives of Ireland has some records digitised and available online, but it's catalogue is next to useless. This means I am restricted to what records it digitises and places online. In the north, by contrast, cataloguing is a major business, and I have found so many items because of this in the last 2 years that I am now regularly making new finds for my research after a period of 10 years being able to find next to nothing - only a few weeks ago I found a school log book kept by my 3 x great grandfather which was annotated with all sorts of genealogical notes about his own life. I would never have found that if it had not been catalogued.