Posted by Laura Gibson on July 3, 2020 in Uncategorized

Celebrating 72 Years of the NHS

July 5th, 2020 marks the 72nd anniversary of the first day of the NHS, a chance to not only celebrate the incredible men and women who continue to work for the National Health Service, but also to honour those who have served the medical profession throughout history.

Journey through some of the amazing collections available on Ancestry to discover records of pioneering practitioners, key hospital workers, medicinal breakthroughs and perhaps help you to uncover the untold stories in your family history.


UK Medical Registers, 1859-1959

The UK Medical Registers, 1859-1959 contains annually published books listing all of the names of doctors who were licensed to practise in the United Kingdom and abroad from 1859-1959. They also include the listings of those inspiring doctors who travelled overseas to qualify as a medical professional in Britain.

These books are key to exploring any medical connections within your ancestry as they list each doctor’s residence, qualification, and date of registration, alongside their names. Once you know where your ancestor worked you will be able to explore the towns and villages in which they lived, to help add more colour and context to their unique story.


Reproduced courtesy of The General Medical Council


1939 England and Wales Register

Initially taken due to the onset of WWII, the register was introduced with the purpose of producing National Identity Cards. Later, it evolved to track civilian movement and in 1948 it became the basis for the National Health Service Register. The 1939 Register is an invaluable resource for tracking your ancestors’ whereabouts during a thirty-year gap in census data. The 1939 Register became a working document, below is an example of the record where you can see additional annotations made in later years, signifying population tracking and changes of maiden to marital names. You will also see some images have been redacted to protect the privacy of those still alive and we will be annually adding records for those with birth dates older than 100 years

Reproduced courtesy of The National Archives


London, England, Poor Law Hospital Admissions and Discharges, 1842-1918

After the Poor Law Act of 1834, workhouses became a pivotal point of assistance for the poor. Conditions were very hard and many of those who entered workhouses needed medical care. Infirmaries attached to workhouses and administered by the Poor Law Unions were used to provide some relief for the impoverished elderly, chronically ill and anyone who suffered from one of many ailments prevalent at the time.

The role of the Workhouse infirmaries steadily expanded over the 19th century and by 1900, they were used to treat and care for not only Workhouse inmates but non-paupers as well; some were even operating as private hospitals. Learn more about the societal shifts during the 19th century and discover key record sets which could help you go deeper into your family tree here.


Continue celebrating 72 years of the NHS here, with more amazing medical collections available to explore for free.