National School Admissions Records published by Findmypast

First phase of records from national collaboration now available

Classroom in a North London primary has published the first records from its new National School Admission Registers and Log-books 1870-1914 resource.Twenty six archives and schools in England and Wales have contributed over 2.5 million historical records from over 1500 schools online for the first time. The National School Admission Registers 1870-1914 captures a snapshot of school life across the UK prior to WW1.

The publication of this national collection (there are two further publication phases) was made possible by around 100 archives and schools throughout England and Wales working with Findmypast to make their local school registers and logbooks available. The project was facilitated by the ARA and it is the first time that so many record offices, archives and schools have collaborated on one digitisation project.

The records include handwritten registers, log-books (diaries recording the daily occurrences at the school, including absences, illnesses, visitors and holidays) and attendance records, exposing our ancestors’ school days in detail for the first time.

Among the highlights are:

• Classes including Responsibility, Duty, Sympathy and Self-Sacrifice alongside Criticism, Sewing and Objects were taught in schools in 1914, a useful set of skills for the boys who became known as  the ‘Lost Generation’ who had to leave school to fight for their country. Sadly one in 10 of the boys who left to fight never returned from the war

• Evidence of how education suffered during WW1 as classes were left without teachers as they went to fight at the front in Belgium and France with one teacher noting, ‘no real progress can be made by these classes under the circumstances’

• The school days of many WW1 soldiers, poets and artists, including celebrated poet Wilfred Owen also feature. Tragically, Owen didn’t return from the front, but his poetry about the horrors of war lives on. Unlike many boys in his Birkenhead school, Owen didn’t pay an extra fee to do gym. However, his father, a Station Master, paid extra for his son to take ‘L’ - standing for Latin.

Could these lessons have inspired the famous war poem Dulce et Decorum est? Artist and writer Wyndham Lewis can also be found in the records.

• Devastating details of children leaving school early can also be found. Perhaps the most moving admissions entries are for the pupils in Harris Orphanage School, Preston, Lancashire. In the ‘cause of leaving’ field, reasons include: ‘discharge owing to impending blindness’ and ‘died in workhouse hospital’

• It’s also evident that just like today, parents who didn’t send their children to school were liable for fines. One report records: “last week a parent was fined...his boy being absent 139 times out of a possible 139”. The current UK attendance rate of 95.7% (source: DofE) would seem miraculous to head teachers of the late 19th century. One wrote in their 1890 school log of the “best days attendance for a whole year” being 90% and dipping at times to as low as 58% due often to the more serious illnesses of the day

• The official school leaving age at the time of these records changed from 10 to 14, although the records show many children left school even earlier. Children can be traced throughout their academic career by their entries in the annual register. These records include infant schools with children as young as three.

The registers contain details like the name of and type of school, name and address of pupils, date of admission, date of leaving, name of parent and/or guardian, date of birth, whether parents are living or dead, parent’s occupation; some might include details of dental inspections, diphtheria immunisation, exemption from religious instruction and which subjects a pupil paid money to take.

In all, this project will bring together school records held by nearly 100 archives and schools throughout England and Wales. The project was facilitated by the ARA. Chief Executive John Chambers said: ‘This significant new resource for family historians - and for all interested in the history of education - was made possible by many archives and schools working together in partnership with Findmypast to make accessible their local school registers and log-books. The ARA has been happy to play its part in making this collaboration possible’. 

The records will be released in three phases. This release includes records from over 1500 schools from 13 counties across England and Wales - Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Devon, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Middlesex, Surrey, Wiltshire and Glamorganshire – and also Westminster. The next phases will be in spring 2015 and autumn 2015.


The records are accessible at


The archives and schools whose records are included in this first phase are:

Bedfordshire & Luton Archives Services, Bolton Museum & Archive Service, Cambridgeshire Archives, Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, Cheshire Archives & Local Studies, Devon Heritage Services, Exeter, Hackney Archives, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, James Allen’s Girls’ School, Kingston Borough Archives, Lambeth Archives – Minet Library, Lancashire Archives, Maynard School, Medway Archives & Local Studies Centre, Merton Heritage & Local Studies Centre, North Devon Record Office, Barnstaple, Stockport Archive Service, Surrey History Centre, Sutton Archives, Tameside Local Studies & Archives Centre, Trafford Local Studies Centre, Wandworth Heritage Service, Battersea, West Glamorgan Archive Service, Swansea, Westminster Archives, Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Wirral Archives Centre