Research Methods

It has been suggested that I explain a bit about my research so far and my plans to continue the research. So here goes..

Stage 1
I transcribed the names from the photograph. To do this I scanned the photo in high resolution so I could zoom in.

Stage 2
I created an excel spreadsheet of the names with one page to keep track of what I had done on search of each individual and one to hold all the information found. I also created a file directory with folders for each individual for storage of any downloaded files.

Stage 3
I searched the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. The results fell into 6 categories:
[1] only one individual and details link them to Liverpool.
[2] only one individual with no details to link them to Liverpool
[3] multiple individuals, only one with Liverpool details
[4] multiple individuals, multiple with Liverpool details
[5] multiple individuals, none with Liverpool details
[6] no individual of that name

I chose this as a starting point because a) it is free and b) the CWGC results would give me more points of research for each individual found.
As a bonus, while I was doing this the CWGC released their new website with better search facilities.

Stage 4
I purchased a subscription to on a month-at-a-time contract. The Ancestry databases were invaluable as at the time I couldn't easily get to Liverpool Archives.  NOTE: and FindMyPast are available for free at Liverpool Libraries.

For each individual I searched Ancestry for the following:

4.1] Entry in Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-1919 (SDIGW) or Naval Deaths in the Great War (NDIGW). These entries often have more detail than the CWGC certificate eg place of birth and residence. They helped narrow down many of the multiple options.

4.2] service records and pension records. Most of the WW1 service records were destroyed in WW2 but some survive, including some which are known as the pension collection although they are not necessarily pension information. I thought that meant I would have no luck but I found service papers and pension records from the families of several of these men.

4.3] Medal card - they sometimes have the next of kin's address, this helped with a few, they also gave me an idea of how many soldiers there were with each name.

4.4] BMD records. These searches had several purposes:
          4.4.i) to confirm the individuals were born in Liverpool
          4.4.ii) to see how many individuals of that name and age there were in Liverpool
          4.4.iii) to rule out any individuals who have marriage/death records after the war
          4.4.iv) baptism records give parents names, sometimes they could be matched to
                     the CWGC certificate or SDIGW/NDIGW entries

4.5] census returns. Where there were multiple individuals from Liverpool with the name I could sometimes use the census returns to rule out some individuals who had died before 1914 or identify details about their family that helped me link them to the CWGC and SDIGW entries.

4.6] wills and probate. Several of the individuals left wills and they gave their military information as well as their home address and family details.

4.7] family trees, I found several of the individuals on family trees and contacted the tree owners to get more details. I got several photographs from this. I hope to keep them informed of what I am doing and invite relevant people to the ceremony for the Roll of Honour.

4.7] other resources eg De Ruvigny's roll of honour, newspapers etc

Stage 5
 I used the Canadian archives website to get information on one man and the australian national archives for another.

(by this point I had confidently identified 42 of the men, had 15 that needed to be narrowed down further and 5 that I couldn't identify at all)

Stage 6
 I got some help from the WW1 forums, and the 1914-1918 GreatWarForum I posted specific names or questions  and the wonderful and very knowledgeable forum members either flat out gave me what I needed or showed me where to find it (thanks!)

6.1] as a result of help from the forum I learned about the Deaths at sea register (which is available on and the fact that Merchant Marine deaths not caused by enemy action are not eligible for the CWGC so this was a good place to find out whether the names I just couldn't find anything for fell into this category.

Stage 7
I also splashed out some more cash at the National Archives Documents Online site and purchased some Battalion diaries and Naval service records.

Stage 8
This wasn't really a stage in itself but whenever I got a pertinent bit of information I searched various websites eg medals of the KLR, Wikipedia, The Long, Long Trail

Stage 9
I visited the database of the King's Liverpool Regiment at the Museum of Liverpool which holds information on those men who served with this regiment.

Stage 10
I searched the local newspapers for family notices (they are available on microfilm at Central Library or you can use the scanned, searchable versions on FindMyPast, they have some (but not all!) Liverpool newspapers 1900-1918 and  if you persevere with different spellings and checking out all the entries that have garbled text it can really pay off.

What next?
When I can get to the archives I will examine the records for the church to see if there are any records of who is mentioned in prayers etc or any mention of casualties in the congregation.

What will I do with the information when I have finished?
a) pass on information to the Town Hall to get names added to the Hall of Remembrance.
b) create a book for the church
c) publish it all on this blog
d) run some open day events at St James Church to share all this information

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Fantastic website