How to look for records of... Evacuees

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This short guide will help you research records of children evacuated during the Second World War.

Some central government files relating to the policy of evacuation have been kept and can be found at The National Archives.

1. What do I need to know before I start?

No official records were created during the First World War as evacuations were arranged individually by families, and finding records from the Second World War is complicated because no central government files were kept.

Try to find out:

  • name of the evacuee’s school
  • where they were evacuated from and to
  • when they were evacuated

2. What records can I see online?

There are no collections of evacuee records available online.

3. What records can I find at The National Archives?

The National Archives does not hold any personal records of evacuees.

Search Discovery, our catalogue, for files relating to evacuation policy. Restrict your search to relevant government departments such as Cabinet Office (CO), Ministry of Education (ED), Ministry of Health (MH), Ministry of Information (INF), Registrar General (RG) and Home Office (HO).

4. What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Local archives are the best place to find out about individuals who were evacuated. For example, they might have records from the schools that were evacuated or the schools that the evacuated children attended while in their new homes.

Search our catalogue using the keyword ‘evacuees’ and refine your results using the filters. This will show local archives which hold relevant records.

Local authorities may have records relating to the arrangements for children being evacuated to their area.

5. What other resources will help me to find information?


Evacuees Reunion Association

Imperial War Museum

Second World War Experience Centre


Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether any of the publications below may be available to buy. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.

R Samways, We think you ought to go – the evacuation of London’s children (London Metropolitan Archives, 1995)

Mike Brown, A child’s war: growing up on the Home Front 1939-1945 (Stroud, 2000)

Stewart Ross, Evacuation (London, c2002)

The Imperial War Museum, The schools in wartime (London, 1995)

6. Did you know?

Evacuation plans had been prepared well before the outbreak of the Second World War, and an evacuation policy was soon established by the government. Small scale evacuations of women and children took place at the height of the Munich Crisis in September 1938, but the major evacuation began in September 1939.

The government had planned to evacuate about 3,500,000 people but in fact only 1,500,000 made use of the official scheme. Almost all had been evacuated to the reception areas by the evening of 3 September, a few hours after the official declaration of war.