As a supplement to the timeline, here's a list of records of more general interest to those who know something about their ancestors' jobs or careers. Click through the pages to find links that will lead you to the documents you need - textile industry records, trade union information, and more.
Official registration documents
Occupations are recorded in birth, marriage or death certificates. For England and Wales, indexes to these certificates can be searched online, and orders can be placed online for copies of the certificates. For Scotland, digitised certificates can be viewed online. Irish indexes are available at the National Archives of Ireland or the Public Records Office Northern Ireland.
Your ancestor’s occupation should be recorded fully in the census returns of 1851 to 1901. The returns for England, Wales and Scotland are available online. For Ireland, only the 1901 and 1911 censuses survive, and they can be viewed at the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin, although they too are gradually being made available online.
For further information and to view census records online:
From the early 19th century, thousands of people worked on the British railway network - as engineers, drivers, station workers or managers. Most personnel files are with the National Archives.
Many people from the coastal communities of this island nation found work with the Merchant Navy. The National Archives holds the most important collection of personnel records.
Campaign medals for merchant seamen in WW2:
Many companies, businesses or named traders advertised in directories. There is a useful online resource where you can search by name, place or period.
Local employment records
Most employment records – where they survive – are held at the relevant local archives where the business was based.
You can search for relevant collections via:
While any surviving records of individual textile manufacturing companies are likely to be deposited at the relevant local archive, there are some central resources you might find useful.
Coal Mining Industry
The National Coal Museum holds material relating to the coal industry, whilst records of the nationalised mining industry can be found at the National Archives.
Archives for Employment, Labour and Trade Union History
National employment records
The National Archives
Business Archives Council
Business Archives Council of Scotland
Maritime History Archive
National Maritime Museum
Registry of Shipping and Seamen
- PO Box 165, Cardiff CF4 5JA
National Coal Museum
National Railway Museum
Weavers' Triangle Visitor Centre
- 85 Manchester Road, Burnley, Lancashire
Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
John Rylands University Library
Trades Union Congress
Rural History Centre and Museum of English Rural Life
People's History Museum