23 September 2022
The UK National Archives and Ancestry have announced that more than 90,000 index cards revealing the employment details of the ‘land girls’ who served in the wartime Women’s Land Army have been digitised and made available online by Ancestry.
The Women’s Land Army (WLA) was established to support the war effort from the home front. These ‘land girls’, as they became known, were critical to increasing food production. At its peak, the Women’s Land Army had more than 80,000 women working on the land, who came from a wide range of backgrounds.
Despite the huge numbers of women involved, original service records of the Women’s Land Army have not survived. What has survived are microfiche copies of alphabetical index cards from 1939 to 1945. Ancestry has just provided digital access to these records for the first time, making them searchable by name and easier to access.
What information do the index cards contain?
These records contain basic information about the women’s service – this information is particularly valuable given the lack of other surviving personnel information. The index cards can help you find information about an individual, and also give an insight into the rich social history of the Land Army, and women’s lives in wartime more generally.
A multi-generational workforce
Whilst the majority of women employed by the Women’s Land Army were young and likely unmarried at the time of their enrolment, older women also joined up. For example, 79-year-old Emmie Warrington was employed in Lancashire in 1941 before transferring to the Women’s Timber Corps in 1942. Meanwhile, 75-year-old Ida May Baker, a housewife from London and a farmer’s daughter, used her farming background and volunteered to join the Women’s Land Army in 1939.
Find out more
The index cards only contain information about those individuals who participated in the Land Army in the Second World War. The online images and indexes exclude individuals born less than 100 years ago. To learn more about the Women’s Land Army in general, read this blog from the UK National Archives 'The Women’s Land Army in eight documents'.
Explore the Index Cards at Ancestry.
(Report courtesy UK National Archives/Ancestry)