Best websites for... schools and teachers

This guide was last updated in 2009

Whether you’re researching your ancestor’s life as a pupil or teacher, you’ll find plenty of leads online. Jonathan Warren offers his guide to the best websites and resources.

Finding material relating to schools can be a tricky business. Obvious word searches tend to throw up sites dedicated to contemporary education, or courses in family history. However, if you persevere, there’s lots of useful material out there, although, from a social history perspective, the best websites are the ones that allow the records to speak for themselves.

Online census records can give you information on staff and children at residential schools, while trade directories can help find addresses, and the headmaster’s name. Once you’ve located your forebear’s school, the key sources include admission registers, from around 1870, and give the name of the child, date of birth, date of admission, plus the father’s name, address and sometimes occupation.

Log books and school magazines often note staff changes, while discharge registers record the date and reason for a child leaving. Although frustratingly few admission registers are online, there are many ongoing digitisation projects.

Top Tip: When hunting for school children in the records, it is important to remember ages of schooling. From 1893 compulsory education was extended to age 11, to age 12 in 1899, 14 in 1918, 15 in 1947 and 16 in 1965.

Photo © Hulton Archive Getty Images

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