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10 December 2021

Newly published data allows us to see into the daily lives of nineteenth-century Post Office workers

With over 19,000 records now live, people can examine the health, retirement, and daily lives of Post Office workers in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century.

Victorian Post illustrations

Part of the “Addressing health” project, the data mapper draws on pension records and other sources of information from The Postal Museum to answer questions such as how many sick days workers took, what were the most common causes of retirement, and where did the oldest Post Office employees work.

Users can create their own maps of the workforce, searching by name, place, occupation and cause of retirement. They can also select and save groups of individuals, which can be downloaded, mapped and shared.

Thanks to this project, some of our most important and most fragile records will be made much more accessible to the public. This new resource will be a major help for family historians and anyone interested more widely in the history of the Post Office workforce.

Gavin McGuffie, senior archivist at The Postal Museum

It’s so rare to find information on the health of people in the past, and to make this available freely to anyone is a real milestone for our project. Working closely with The Postal Museum has made this possible. We hope that many different users will find the information interesting and useful – from family historians and students undertaking projects to academics interested in the history of health and the workplace.

Professor David Green, principal investigator

We’re so excited to be able to share this unique and fascinating data in an accessible and fun way. We can’t wait to see what discoveries others make with this data and are delighted we can share it with anyone interested in the history of health and work in the nineteenth-century.

Dr Kathleen McIlvenna, co-investigator

Over 1,800 volunteers helped to photograph and transcribe original documents from 1858 to 1908 to create the online resource, as well as project partners, the University of the Third Age.

The data mapper is part of the three-year “Addressing Health” project, funded by the Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Enrichment fund. The project team hopes to have over 30,000 records made available.

In this story

Professor David Green

Professor of Historical Geography

Harry Smith

Research Associate