About the Map

Stories of wartime life

In its attempt to monitor and respond to the impacts of total war on British society, the ministers and departments of the U.K. government collated a vast array of narratives, opinions and accounts from the public. These were recorded in the reports of local commissioners, in the surveys of opinion and morale, and in the private correspondence either addressed to – or intercepted by – the government itself. These personal narratives provide a crucial window into the lived experiences and conditions of the wartime period, but all too often remain scattered, uncatalogued, amongst the wider collections of the records of state.

War, State and Society aims to harness the opportunities provided by digitization to locate, catalogue and present the stories of wartime life contained within the collections of The National Archives (U.K.). This map contains just a selection of highlights and passages identified by our editorial team, and we gladly welcome contributions from our readers. See ‘How to use the map’ for further details on how to submit your own recommended passages for inclusion on the map.

 

Civilian testimonies from across the U.K.

For administrative purposes, the wartime U.K. was partitioned into twelve ‘Civil Defence’ Regions (plus Northern Ireland). Regional commissioners from various departments were assigned to each area, in order to coordinate local schemes, to collate information for distribution to the central government, and to assume governance of the region in the event of a breakdown in communications following an invasion. As these regional files were often the source of the public voices contained within the collection, this map has been organised in the same manner. See below for a full breakdown of the counties and districts contained within the borders of each region.

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