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Study exploring the lives of Victorian postal workers invites the public to delve into historical records

As part of Transcription Tuesday 2021, the public are being invited to help deliver a major study of what life was truly like for Victorian and Edwardian Britain’s postal workers.

Illustration of the Central Telegraph Office during the Victorian Era

The public are being invited to help deliver a major study of what life was truly like for Victorian and Edwardian Britain’s postal workers. The research draws attention to the importance of occupational health for both today’s workforce as well as in the past, including the timely fact that often Victorian postal workers had to be vaccinated to deliver the post.

The occupational health and pension records of thousands of postal employees from 1858-1908 will be examined in the Addressing Health project.

Researchers are encouraging the public to help transcribe records dating from 1860-1862, aiming for around 21 000 transcriptions to be made in just one day next week.

It is one of four projects taking part in Transcription Tuesday 2021, Tuesday 2 February, organised by the magazine dedicated to the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? TV series.

The event brings together family history volunteers around the world to transcribe important record sets and make them available to fellow researchers.

Professor David R Green, the project’s principal investigator and Professor of Historical Geography at King’s College London, said:

This is a truly exciting project that will fundamentally change how we view health in nineteenth and twentieth-century Britain. The whole team is looking forward to working with the public to create new knowledge. Through this work we hope to draw attention to the importance of occupational health both for today’s workforce as well as in the past – Professor David Green

In readiness for the event the project, headed by academics from King’s College London, the University of Derby, Kingston University, University College London and archivists at The Postal Museum, has now gone live on the crowdsourcing research website Zooniverse.

The records have been digitised and made available online for the first time by The Postal Museum, revealing a vast amount of information, including the location and occupation of the pensioners, the reason for and date of their retirement, their length of service, and details on periods of sickness before retirement.

To help people take part in the transcription event, the Zooniverse website has a tutorial for participants to find and record information including the employees’ names, locations, or number of days off.

For more information about taking part in the event, visit the Addressing Health website.

 

Contact Details: James Baggaley, james.baggaley@kcl.ac.uk

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David Green

David Green

Professor of Historical Geography