Only a small number of the tribunal papers contesting World War I conscription survive. An intriguing new archive tells some of the stories involved. The new archive contains up to 11,000 case papers from the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal which, between 1916 and 1918, heard appeals from men who had previously applied to a local tribunal for exemption from compulsory military service. The reasons provided by applicants are varied, with applications made on moral grounds (conscientious objectors), on medical grounds (disability), on family grounds (looking after dependents) and on economic grounds (preserving a business). The vast majority of cases relate to the impact of war on a man’s family or their business interests, and the papers reveal some fascinating and tragic stories.
The series is now fully searchable and available online, following the completion of a digitisation project jointly funded by the Friends of The National Archives and Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS).
You can read more about this new offering in the National Archives Blog at http://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/blog/commemorating-conscription/ and in an article in the Culture24 web site at http://goo.gl/RJW7Th. The records are available at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/conscription-appeals.
My thanks to newsletter reader Dean McLeod for telling me about this new online database.