The primary source material in this resource has been indexed with additional metadata to supplement the catalogue data from the two source archives. The additional metadata fields, which include themes, locations, organisations, and keywords, are designed to aid students and researchers to identify documents of relevance to their research, to draw links between documents, and to browse and search according to categories such as region and theme.

The core metadata fields derived from the original archival catalogues are:

  • Reference
  • Title
  • Date
  • Former Department Reference
  • Government Department

The choice of additional metadata fields to supplement this core data was finalized in consultation with the Editorial Board and with focus groups composed of academics and librarians. The following additional fields have been indexed:

  • Description
  • Themes and Subthemes
  • Document Types
  • Civil Defence Region
  • Locations
  • Organisations and Services
  • Keywords
  • Notes

Fields for which editorial decisions had to be made to define or restrict the data populated in them, and fields requiring explanation, are detailed below.

Themes and subthemes

In consultation with the Editorial Board, nine key themes were identified by which the documents in the resource could be categorized and described.

Each file has been assigned at least one theme from the following list:

  • Preparations for War and Peace
  • Military Activity and Home Defence
  • Bombing and Attacks on the Population
  • Rationing and Supply
  • Evacuation
  • Industry and Infrastructure
  • Domestic Life
  • Information Services and Propaganda
  • Social Relations

Each theme covers a range of topics:

Theme Topics
Preparations for War and Peace High-level governance of wartime Britain, macro-economic trends and surveys, and the organisation of governing bodies and institutions, as well as the programmes for national defence, welfare, and politics enacted both before and after the conflict.
Military Activity and Home Defence
The presence and activities of military units on British soil, and the strategic defence measures (both preventative and responsive) put in place to protect the public against enemy attacks on the United Kingdom.
Bombing and Attacks on the Population The impact, both immediate and long-term, of enemy attacks on various aspects of civilian life, including damage to buildings and infrastructure, effects on production and industrial output, and the personal, psychological, and social responses to total war.
Rationing and Supply The monitoring, regulation, and promotion of the production and supply of food, the consumption and purchase of food, and the consumption of other essentials and commodities, during a period of extremely limited availability.
Evacuation The movement of groups or populations, both official and unofficial, in response to the conflict, as well as the reception, social impact, and personal experiences of new arrivals to reception areas.
Industry and Infrastructure Industrial production (both military and consumer), transport networks, labour issues, and the wartime workforce.
Domestic Life The ways in which individuals and households lived, consumed, interacted, and were entertained during the war, and the various material and social factors that dictated this.
Information Services and Propaganda Government attempts to monitor, manage, and control the flow of information and messages about the war and public life, measures to track and influence the public mood, and the proliferation of unofficial communication channels.
Social Relations The strains of public and social life either brought about by, exacerbated by, or occurring independently of the war. Topics range from crime to political disruption and racial tensions, as well as the more positive responses from the public and moves towards societal change.

In order to allow students and researchers to examine each of these themes in greater detail, each was assigned an additional five subthemes relating to more specific aspects of their scope and topics. For ease of consultation, these have been grouped together within one of the nine themes as a heading, but have been assigned to each document as an entirely independent entity, meaning that users can freely select any combination of themes and subthemes as they deem relevant.

A brief summary of the topics covered by each subtheme can be accessed here.

Document Types

In consultation with the Editorial Board, twelve document types were identified by which the primary source material could be categorized.

Each file has been indexed according to at least one document type from the following list:

  • Advertisements, Pamphlets, and Posters
  • Film and Broadcast Transcripts
  • Letters and Statements from the Public
  • Maps, Charts, and Diagrams
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Memoranda
  • Miscellaneous
  • Official Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Press Summaries and Publications
  • Reports and Surveys
  • Statistical data

Civil Defence Region

For administrative purposes, the wartime United Kingdom 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 headquarters were a key source of reporting for the wartime government, their geographical division is reflected in many of The National Archives' catalogues.

Documents in this resource have been indexed according to the regions on which they predominantly report, in order to allow students and researchers to examine and compare local conditions across the United Kingdom. These regions also form the basis of the Voices Map feature, which includes further information about the boundaries of each region at the county level. The name and headquarters for each region are as follows:

  • Region 1: Northern (Newcastle HQ)
  • Region 2: North Eastern (Leeds HQ)
  • Region 3: North Midlands (Birmingham HQ)
  • Region 4: Eastern (Cambridge HQ)
  • Region 5: London
  • Region 6: Southern (Reading HQ)
  • Region 7: South Western (Bristol HQ)
  • Region 8: Wales (Cardiff HQ)
  • Region 9: Midlands (Birmingham HQ)
  • Region 10: North Western (Manchester HQ)
  • Region 11: Scotland (Edinburgh HQ)
  • Region 12: South Eastern (Tunbridge Wells HQ)
  • Northern Ireland

Documents which cover the entire U.K. have been indexed as 'Nationwide'.



In addition to the Civil Defence Regions listed above, each document has been indexed according to the towns, cities, areas, and counties – as well as countries outside of the U.K. – that it reports on to a meaningful degree. Each location can be found within the resource using the Advanced Search feature, and a full list of the locations indexed can be downloaded for reference here.

Organisations and Services

The National Archives collections contain a wealth of documentation relating to the works and activities of numerous wartime organisations, including:

  • Wartime services, such as the Home Guard, Auxiliary Fire Service, and Women's Land Army.
  • Military institutions, such as the Air Ministry, Machine Gun Corps, Royal Engineers, and The British Legion.
  • Public institutions, such as the B.B.C., Inland Revenue, National Trust, and Port of London Authority.
  • Government committees, councils, and boards.
  • Industry and trade bodies, such as the British Film Institute, the Electrical Traders Union, the National Hosiery Federation, the National Union of Pottery Workers, and others.
  • Societies and charities, such as the Association of Jewish Youth, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Salvation Army, and the Waifs and Strays Society.

Each document has been indexed according to the organisations whose activities it covers. A full list of the organisations indexed within the collections, each of which can be searched for using the Advanced Search feature, can be downloaded for reference here.

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