The Second World War in Brierley Hill

Thank you for coming to Brierley Hill Library for today’s event (25th May 2024). This page gives some ideas of what you can find on the 1939 register.

Exploring the 1939 Register

Brierley Hill Library provides free access on its computer to both Find My Past and Ancestry websites. If you are doing these exercises away from the library a subscription to the website will be required.

What we’re aiming to do

  1. To be able to use Find My Past to explore the 1939 register
  2. To be able to find the record of an individual on the 1939 register
  3. To be able to explore residents in a particular street on the 1939 register
  4. To explore which the various civilian roles being undertaken in Brierley Hill
  5. To identify the people in Brierley Hill undertaking the various roles.

1. Find the search page

2. Focus the search on Brierley Hill

For our purposes we are looking at Brierley Hill:

  • Scroll down to the Borough/District field.
  • Type in Brierley Hill U.D.
  • If you hit enter on your keyboard, or click on View 38,948 Results, you will see a list of all the names on the 1939 Register who live in Brierley Hill.

These are a lot of names. Let’s make it more manageable and refine our search to a street.

3. Searching for a street

Click here to go back to the 1939 Register search page.

  • Enter Brierley Hill in Borough/district search box, and then click in the Street box.
  • Type Adelaide Street in the Street box.
  • Press Enter on your keyboard.

You will now see a list of all the names of Adelaide Street Residents.

To the right of each name you will see two small icons.

  • The one on the left takes you to a transcript of that person’s entry in the register.
  • The one on the right takes you to an image of the actually register which includes that persons name.
  • Have a look at the register for Adelaide Street to see what information is available.

4. Searching for a name

Click here to go back to the 1939 Register search page.

Let’s continue our theme and search for a particular individual – say Bessie Rowbottom.

  • Look for the Who box
  • Click in First name and type Bessie
  • Click in Last name and type Rowbottom

…and presto, Bessie’s name should come up at the top of the list.

5. Exploring Civilian Roles

Click here to go back to the 1939 Register search page.

  • Enter Brierley Hill in the Borough/district search box
  • Click in the Civilian role box
  • To the right of the box you will see Browse civilian role, click on this
  • Choose one of the roles you are interested in, say Air Raid Wardens
  • Click on apply filter
  • Click on View…Results
  • Presto…you should now be able to see all the civilians with your selected civilian role in the Brierley Hill District

In early 1939, in preparation for war, the government distributed a booklet called National Service. This detailed some of the Civilian roles. Click here to view its descriptions of the roles and who they would be suitable for. How well do the residents you identify meet National Service’s criteria?

By now you will have got the hang of searching the 1939 Register. You can always come back to the library to do some more searches in your own time. Enjoy.