History project records postal workers' health


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08 January 2022
A project has gathered records of over 19,000 individual post office workers, with more to come, and uploaded them to a new data mapper which is free to anyone in the world. By the end of the project, the records of over 30,000 workers will have been made available.

‘Addressing Health’ is a three-year collaborative project funded by Wellcome examining the health of Post Office workers in the United Kingdom between 1858 and 1908.

The data mapper draws on pension records and other sources of information to answer questions such as how many sick days did workers take, what were the most common causes of retirement, and where did the oldest Post Office employees work?

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Users can create their own maps of the workforce, searching by name, place, occupation and cause of retirement. They can select and save groups of individuals that can be downloaded, mapped and shared with others.

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The data mapper is a unique resource that has been created through a huge collective effort by the Addressing Health team, The Postal Museum, the University of the Third Age and over 1800 wonderful volunteers who have helped photograph and then transcribe the original documents using the Zooniverse platform.

Prof David Green, principal investigator of the project, said: ‘Anyone interested in the history and geography of health in the 19th-century will find this unique resource invaluable. It’s so rare to find information on the health of people in the past, and to make this available freely to anyone is a real milestone for our project. Working closely with The Postal Museum has made this possible. We hope that many different users will find the information interesting and useful – from family historians and students undertaking projects to academics interested in the history of health and the workplace.’

Gavin McGuffie, senior archivist at The Postal Museum, said: ‘Thanks to the new data mapper created by the Addressing Health project, some of our most important and most fragile records will be made much more accessible to the public. This new resource will be a major help for family historians and anyone interested more widely in the history of the Post Office workforce.’

Find out more about the project at: addressinghealth.org.uk


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