Track down employment records
One of the best ways to discover more about an adult ancestor’s everyday life is to explore their occupation. Begin searches for employment records of a specific business or work address with local maps and directories, and at the relevant archives. The survival rate of employment records increases into the 20th century, but access may be more difficult since they are likely to be held by the relevant company. You should also be aware that company names often change over time. If you know the name of your ancestor’s employer, try typing it into a search engine, along with an address if you have one, because that can sometimes give clues to name changes and where the archives are held. You can also use The National Archives’ online catalogue Discovery ( discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk) to see if company records have been deposited in a local archive.
Employment records can include dates and places of death, as well as details of careers. Ancestry holds a number of useful collections for individuals who worked in specific areas, including railways and the Metropolitan Police pension registers 1852–1932 ( bit.ly/anc-met
pension), although transcribed and digitised records may be the tip of the iceberg compared with the material held in archives. You may also find in-house company magazines, with photos of company events and announcements of births, marriages, retirements and deaths.
Metropolitan traffic police in the 1930s. Pension records are available on Ancestry