1939 Reg­is­ter


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Af­ter read­ing the ar­ti­cles on the 1939 Reg­is­ter in your De­cem­ber 2015 is­sue, I want to tell you about my very pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of us­ing the Reg­is­ter. Un­lock­ing one house­hold on it has con­firmed two sto­ries con­cern­ing my great aunt, Freda Wake­ford.

I knew that Freda was an ac­coun­tant in the 1920s and ’30s in Lon­don – among very few women ac­coun­tants. Al­though I had con­tacted sev­eral ac­coun­tancy bod­ies they could not find a record of her qual­i­fi­ca­tion. The 1939 Reg­is­ter told me that Freda was em­ployed as an “In­cor­po­rated Ac­coun­tant”.

This meant that she was prob­a­bly a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of In­cor­po­rated Ac­coun­tants, the records of which are now held by the In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants in Eng­land and Wales (ICAEW). I had con­tacted the ICAEW be­fore with no luck, but the term “In­cor­po­rated” made all the dif­fer­ence.

The ICAEW con­firmed that she was a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of In­cor­po­rated Ac­coun­tants from 1931 un­til 1939 and worked for Rouse and Co in Lin­coln’s Inn. She passed her in­ter­me­di­ate ex­ams in 1928 and her fi­nals in May 1930 at the age of 22. The doc­u­men­ta­tion I re­ceived showed that 331 stu­dents took the fi­nal exam, and Freda was one of 143 can­di­dates to pass, in­clud­ing very few women.

I knew that Freda was friends with a prom­i­nent Jewish man linked to Marks and Spencer. No one in the fam­ily knew his name or how he was con­nected. I was sur­prised to see a Joseph L Co­hen, Econ­o­mist to Marks and Spencer, in the same house­hold. Now I had a name and his role at the store.

Joseph, I dis­cov­ered, worked for the Bri­tish Army Re­cruit­ing Of­fice in New York dur­ing the First World War, where he helped to or­ga­nize the Jewish Le­gion. He was the Bri­tish rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the In­ter­na­tional Labour Of­fice in Geneva, was very ac­tive in as­sist­ing Jewish refugees flee­ing Nazi Ger­many and was founder and Sec­re­tary of the Coun­cil for Ger­man Jews. He was killed in an air raid on Lon­don in Novem­ber 1940 a few months af­ter Freda had em­i­grated to Canada. The 1939 Reg­is­ter helped me fill in a few gaps and was £ 6.95 well spent! Deborah Jac­ques, by email Editor replies: Many thanks for your let­ter Deborah. The 1939 Reg­is­ter cer­tainly has re­vealed a lot about your Aunt Freda and much more be­sides, open­ing up a whole new av­enue for your re­search. Good luck with your fu­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

wins a 12-month Di­a­mond sub­scrip­tion to The­Ge­neal­o­gist.co.uk

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The 1939 Reg­is­ter show­ing Deborah’s great aunt, Freda Wake­ford

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