The First World War affected every sector of society, as the nation’s resources were harnessed for the war effort. Like other employers, the civil service lost staff to the armed forces and had to replace them while they were away. It also had to deal with a greatly increased workload during wartime. Records in The National Archives describe how civil servants coped with these conditions: an eye-witness account of a Zeppelin raid, sugar ration coupons, and details of a scheme for gathering conkers are just some of the documents used to build a picture of the role of the civil service in wartime.
Audrey Collins is family history specialist at The National Archives and she has been researching the history and development of the General Register Office for several years, which led to an interest in the wider civil service during the First World War. She is a regular speaker at genealogical events and conferences in the UK and worldwide.