Ask the Archivist - World War One

Posted on 29 June 2020
Our next topic was a rich and varied one: the First World War. The Q&A is below. You can also read a feature about these wonderful records in the Glasgow Times​.
Q1: Do you hold a list of everyone from Glasgow who was killed during the war?
We hold the city’s official Roll of Honour. This was first published in 1922 and lists details about service personnel who were killed in the conflict, including names, ranks, regiments and addresses. A version is available online
The roll as it was first published is incomplete, however, and a project is underway to identify men who are missing from the record and have them added. (See Irene, our Senior Archivist, "modelling" the roll alongside John, a volunteer who has been painstakingly working on updating it below.)
Q2: How can I find out what ancestors did during the war if they didn’t serve?
It can be tricky. As with all family history research, think about where your ancestors might have come into contact with the wheels of bureaucracy. For instance, might they have married or had a child in the years around the war? If so, the record should show an occupation. Similarly, check sources like valuation rolls in case the occupation listed gives you some clues. Think widely and check this history site for guidance.
Q3: Where can I find military service records?
The National Archives in Kew holds these and is offering free access to many of its records during the shutdown
It’s also possible to access the records free via Ancestry and FindMyPast at any Glasgow Library (when they’re open) and some records off-site during the closure
Q4: Do you hold any records of men who signed up in Glasgow?
We hold some great records of the HLI battalions that the city set up on the outbreak of war. These include names, regimental numbers, religion, and often additional info like height and shoe size! A database is freely available on this site.
Q5: What do you hold on everyday life in the city?
Lots! It’s worth remembering that life continued to some degree, so our core collections reflect that. A couple of examples are a fantastic series of photographs of Glasgow in 1914, just before the outbreak of war (see image of Broomielaw above) and a photographic survey of Glasgow schools in 1916, showing the buildings and children attending classes, almost as usual!
Q6: Do you hold anything about the role of women in the war effort?
We do indeed. For example, there are records of women munition workers, including those at McKie and Baxter marine engineers (ref: TD827/5/36). Another great collection is the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (ref: TD1734), which served all across Europe. We’ve posted about this fantastic, rich collection quite a few times.
Q7: Do you have anything on people who were displaced during the war?
Glasgow was the distribution point for Belgian refugees escaping the German invasion of their country. We hold lists of some 8000 Belgians which include details like names, ages, where they were from in Belgium, where they stayed on arrival in Glasgow and where they went on to. You can view indexes to these lists on our site.
Q8: How can I research Red Cross volunteers, such as ambulance drivers?
The Red Cross has a great website where you can search the records of WW1 volunteers.
Two people sitting at a desk with two large old books in front of them with filing cabinets behind them in the background
Irene, our Senior Archivist, "modelling" the roll alongside John, a volunteer who has been painstakingly working on updating it