On 1st January 2014 Jersey Heritage opened over 150 new records to the public for the first time. The records have been closed to public access for periods of 30, 75 and 100 years and include admission registers from the General Hospital and details of individuals applying to become medical practitioners prior to the Second World War.
The records are all stored at the Jersey Archive and are now freely available for members of the public to consult.
Linda Romeril Head of Archives and Collections said, ‘Each year Jersey Heritage opens more documents for people to come and view at the Archive. Whilst many of our documents are open to public access from the moment they arrive at the Archive, some files with sensitive personal data are closed for a certain period of time to protect individuals’ privacy.’
She continued, ‘The files that have been opened in 2014 allow us to discover more about the medical history of the Island and also the background of those who moved to Jersey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.’
Files that have been closed for the longest period of 100 years date from 1913 – a year in which Home Rule for Ireland was being debated in the Houses of Parliament, women were campaigning for the vote in England and stainless steel was invented in Sheffield.
Locally the States debated the teaching of French in public elementary schools, the proposed hospital at Overdale and the establishment of a tax on beer. Local events included the Battle of Flowers which was described as a ‘great success’ with ‘record attendance and entries’. Visitors to the Island in 1913 included the Rt Hon. Winston Churchill who arrived on the admiralty yacht ‘Enchantress’ on 30th August.
1913 is, of course, also a year in which tensions in Europe were building and would eventually lead to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Interestingly the files that have been opened after 75 years also date from a period immediately prior to a significant conflict – the Second World War.
A file that has been opened after 75 years includes details of applications by two Austrian doctors to move to the Island in 1938 to practice medicine. On 12th March 1938 the German Army had marched into Austria and later that month Austria became part of the German Empire.
One of the doctors who applied to come to Jersey was Otto Wolfgang Lederer who was born in Vienna and was of Jewish descent. Dr Lederer’s wife Alice was born in Liverpool and wrote to the Island Authorities on 8th July 1938 asking if there were any openings for her husband to move to the Island and practice medicine. In her letter she says ‘Political changes here force him to leave this country…’
Dr Lederer was not able to come to Jersey to practice but in 1939 he and his wife moved to India.
Hospital Admissions to the General Hospital for the year 1913 are also now open to the public and allow us to find out more about the individuals who were admitted to the hospital in that year and the reasons for their admission.
In 1913 the hospital still acted as what was effectively the Island’s poor house with many individuals admitted, not for medical reasons but simply because they were ‘indigent’ or poor. These include Marie Jeanne Aubin the wife of Mathurin Angé who was born in the Côtes du Nord and entered the hospital in poverty at the age of 82.
The Charpentier Family were also admitted to the hospital for non-medical reasons. Joseph Pierre Marie Charpentier who was 27 and born in Ile et Vilaine was admitted to the hospital with his two children Marie Joseph aged 21 months and Joseph Pierre Marie aged just 8 days on the 22nd March with the reason for admission being given as ‘flooding of his house by the sea.’
Many of those admitted to the hospital for medical reasons had injuries or illnesses that we would be familiar with today such as tonsillitis, heart disease, pneumonia and hernias. The register also lists some diseases that are thankfully no longer prevalent in the Island such as typhoid and diphtheria.
The Jersey Archive holds over 4,000 ‘aliens’ registration cards. In 1914 the British Parliament passed the Aliens Restrictions Act, limiting the movement of foreign nationals into the UK and the Isle of Man as well as ensuring that such people would be monitored whilst in the country. However, the act did not cover Jersey, and by 1919 it was considered urgent to take steps to prevent Jersey being used as a back door for foreign nationals trying to enter the UK. The principal points of the 1914 law were adopted by the Island in an act of the States dated 17th February 1920.
The law stated that all aliens over the age of sixteen resident in Jersey had to register with an Immigration Officer, who was obliged to keep an up-to-date list of all aliens living in the island. This was kept in the form of a card for each person. Information on each card includes name, address, date and place of birth, nationality, occupation, date of arrival in the Island and lastly country of residence. The cards also include a signature or left thumbprint, and most interestingly for researchers, a photograph.
The aliens’ registration cards, due to the personal nature of the information they contain, are closed for 100 years from the date of birth of the individual. This means that at the beginning of each year we open the next set of cards for researchers to access.
Registration Cards of those born in 1913 that are now open to public access include Marietta Baumgartmer, from Berne, Switzerland who came to the Island in 1929 and Dignum Theodore Bijman a bulb grower from Holland who came to Jersey in 1946.
Also included are Charles de Trogoff du Boisguezennec a student at the Maison St Louis who came to the Island in 1936 but sadly drowned off Corbière in April 1940 with his fellow student Christian Yves Le Boutillier who also has a card.
Many of the cards belong to those of French Nationality who came to the Island to work on the farms or in other industries – these include the card of George Francis Morel a Motor Mechanic, Blanche Beatrice Gourdon, a hairdresser and Pierre Marie Thebault, a farmworker.
Category: Editor's Choice