Tuesday 13 November 2012

1922 Military Census online for browsing

As promised last week, Military Archives have today released online the Irish Army Census Returns 1922. The release marks the 90th anniversary of the night the returns were compiled.

The purpose of the Census was to ascertain the exact strength of the National Forces by location for administrative, logistical and operational purposes. It covered all posts including Military hospitals and detention centres and provides a definitive list of Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and soldiers serving at midnight on the night of 12 November 1922.

The Census returns were subsequently arranged alphabetically and gathered into ten large leather-bound volumes. While previously available to researchers visiting the Military Archives in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, they have been an under-used resource because unless a researcher knew where a particular soldier was stationed or posted on the military census night, they had to read through all the sizeable volumes.

With today's online release, one of these limitations has been overcome. The volumes are now scanned and available in pdf format for easy download to any convenient computer. Phase 2 of the project has also been completed, so the posts have been mapped. This means that if you have some idea of the post where a soldier ancestor was stationed, your search can be restricted to a certain area.

However, for random searching for family members who may have been in the Irish Army at the beginning of the 1920s, you'll have to wait a little while longer. Phase 3 of the project – the creation of a searchable index of the census returns – will be completed in the near future and should see the completed project available in early 2013.