How to look for records of... Women’s Land Army
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
How many are online?
This is a brief guide to researching records of the Women’s Land Army. Though the original service records of the Women’s Land Army have not survived, The National Archives has microfiche copies of alphabetical index cards from 1939 to 1945 that contain some basic information about the women’s service.
What do I need to know before I start?
Try to find out the woman’s maiden name, if she subsequently married.
The Women’s Land Army was established in January 1917 to help increase the amount of food grown within Britain. It was wound up in 1919, and then re-established shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, in June 1939. It was finally disbanded in 1950.
At its peak in 1943 over 80,000 women worked as ‘land girls’. They came from a wide range of backgrounds including towns and cities as well as the countryside.
Surviving members of the Women’s Land Army (or spouses or families of members who died after 6 December 2007) can apply for a commemorative badge from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs acknowledging the debt that the country owes them.
Search for an index card recording service in the Women’s Land Army, 1939-1948, (MAF 421) on Ancestry (£) . The index cards can show name, address, date of birth, Women’s Land Army number and occasionally present occupation, where transferred to and when demobilised. The majority of women employed in the Women’s Land Army were unmarried, so it may be useful to search using maiden and married names.
Index cards for women born less than 100 years ago are not available through Ancestry.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).
Minutes, photographs and posters (1938–1950)
Browse minutes of county committees, collections of photographs, recruiting posters and selected files in MAF 59.
Copies of alphabetical index cards (1939–1948)
Look through microfiche copies of index cards in MAF 421. The index cards can show name, address, date of birth, Women’s Land Army number and occasionally present occupation, where transferred to and when demobilised. The fiche is arranged alphabetically by surname. Many of these index cards can also be searched on Ancestry (£).
Records in other archives and organisations
Original alphabetical index cards (1939–1950)
Contact the Imperial War Museum for a photocopy of an index card. The originals are not available for the public to view. They require the full name, date of birth, the address at the time of service, and the location of service if possible.
Oral history recordings
Listen to some oral history recordings by members of the Women’s Land Army on the Imperial War Museum website.
Records held elsewhere
The National Archives’ catalogue contains collections and contact details of local archives around the UK and beyond. To locate these records, search our catalogue with keywords and refine your results to ‘Other archives’ using the filters.
The index cards for Scotland are held by the National Records of Scotland.
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.
Nicola Tyrer, ‘They Fought in the Fields: The Women’s Land Army – The Story of a Forgotten Army’ (Mandarin, 1997)
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