Transcription Tuesday 2018: Join the Cardiganshire Great War Tribunals team!

By Rosemary Collins, 9 January 2018 - 10:09am

For WDYTYA? Magazine’s second annual Transcription Tuesday event on 23 January, Rosemary Collins will be transcribing records of First World War conscription tribunals in Cardiganshire for the National Library of Wales. In this blog post, she explains why you should join her…

  • Register for Transcription Tuesday 2018 here
  • Click here to read blog posts about the four other projects
Tuesday 9 January 2018
Rosemary Collins, Editorial Assistant
Read more blog posts from the magazine team


Conscientious objectors at Dyce Camp, October 1916. (Credit: Hulton Archive/ Getty Images

22 January UPDATE

I have spoken to the co-ordinators at the National Library of Wales and they have pointed out that the website now displays green and orange lines under the collection of records. If there is a green line under the record, that means it has already been completed and you should NOT transcribe the record; if there is an orange line, it means that you SHOULD transcribe it.

In 2018, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Almost all of us will have ancestors who risked their lives fighting in the global conflict, and who in many cases joined the millions of casualties.

But what about the lesser-known stories of those who appealed against conscription – some for religious or political grounds and some because they were unwell, needed to support their family or carried out essential civilian work?

In Fearne Cotton’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, she found out that her great grandfather, Evan Meredith, was a conscientious objector in Wales.

Now, the National Library of Wales (NLW) is looking for volunteers to help share the stories of the wartime conscription tribunals through online transcription.

Around 2,000 tribunals were established across Britain following the passing of the Military Service Act in 1916.

In 1921 the government ordered all their records destroyed, apart from two sample sets from Middlesex and Lothian and Peebles.

However, the records from the Cardiganshire tribunals are preserved at the NLW.

They are unique in Wales and very rare in the UK, making them crucial for understanding an overlooked aspect of the war, and a very special family history resource for the relatives of the men involved.

They also make for an unusual and exciting transcription project, allowing us to directly hear the men’s voices as they set out their reasons for not fighting as if they were speaking to us through the years.

Step 1

Visit the NLW’s crowdsourcing website, The NLW advises transcribers to access the website using Google Chrome or Firefox as a browser. Click ‘Register’ at the top right-hand corner to set up a free membership account. If you’ve already set up an account, then click ‘Login’ and log in as usual. It would be best to set up an account before Transcription Tuesday begins.

Step 2
Click the red ‘Get Started’ button and then click on a document from the selection before you.

Step 3
Choose the description of the type of form that best matches the image, then the description of the heading on this page, then begin typing the information written on the form into the relevant boxes on the right. The handwriting can be hard to read, but do your best! Don’t worry if there isn’t information to fill in every section.

Step 4
When you’ve entered all the information, check it over carefully to make sure you’re happy with it and click the red ‘Save’ button. You will then have the option to either ‘Continue annotating this item’ or ‘Return to the collection’. Click ‘Continue annotating this item’ to transcribe the same record again, or ‘Return to the collection’ to go back to the images.

Step 5
If you click ‘Return to the collection’ and select the image next to the one you’ve already transcribed, you should get the second page of the form. Transcribe the information as before. This will include boxes where the applicant sets out their grounds for exemption, sometimes including religious and political arguments, so there will be a lot of text to transcribe.

Step 6
You can continue to work your way through the records, although it is one continuous page so you’ll have to remember where you are. Keep a tally of the number of tribunal records you transcribe (counting individual pages, not entire forms) and email the total to at the end of the day. I’ll be doing the same – no cheating!

I hope you will join me in making these important records, which shed light on the complex social landscape of the First World War, more widely available. If you would like to take part in this project, please register here.



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Transcription Tuesday 2018: Join the Ancestry World Archives Project team!
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