The Home Front 1939-45; A Guide for Family Historians

Stuart A Raymond (The Family History Partnership, 2012), A5 perfect bound, 64 pp.

This book does exactly what it says in its title – it guides the family historian to sources of archive material on the personnel and activities of wartime Home Front organisations. After a brief Introduction, and notes on civil registers and other death records the author then takes the reader through a further 15 short chapters of notes on various facets of home front life during this exceptional period. The first five of these chapters look at national registration, electoral registers, taxation records, trade directories and newspapers. Apart from the national registration chapter, the others are not specifically wartime but serve as reminders that these sources still may have useful information for the war period researcher.

The next ten chapters cover more specifically wartime topics – the Home Guard, Royal Observer Corps, Civil Defence, War Damage, medals, internees & conscientious objectors, voluntary organisations, evacuation, and education. Each chapter has a brief background résumé and is then followed by notes on the scope and location of surviving archives.

The last chapter comprises a third of the whole book and is devoted to the occupational sources available for the period. Some of these are not specifically wartime, some are, and some simply reorganised for the duration – but all important occupations during the war (and in some cases in its aftermath). Here, among others, are the Bevin Boys (coalminers), farmers, Women’s Land Army, munitions workers as well as police, firemen, coastguards, railway workers and suchlike.

The book has a number of contemporary photographs, but more importantly each chapter or sub-chapter has information on the location of relevant archive material, and on the online sources available. For the family historian researching this period this book is an invaluable tool and guide.

Tony Roberts

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