Friday, 24 February 2012

A Perfect CV

This is my dad, Charlie. He looks a serious fellow here, doesn't he? This was a works shot taken during his time at Burroughs in the 1950s and 60s. My father came from humble beginnings but was always proud of the way he had kept on studying as an adult and subsequently developed his career from manual worker to a senior managerial role.

I recently came across his old curriculum vitae, taking his career up to the 1960s. It had all kind of details on it and filled in several gaps I had in his movements during the second world war and the 1950s. I never really thought of a cv as a worthwhile document in my family history research but I was wrong. Here's what I discovered:

1936 - 1939: worked as a Message Boy and Apprentice Turner at Babcock and Wilcox (Valve Manufacturers), Dumbarton. 

My dad had mentioned various jobs he'd done as a teenager - paper boy, giving out leaflets on the steamer on Loch Lomond - but I didn't know the details of this one until now. I've even tracked down photographs of the Babcock and Wilcox plant so I can see the kind of environment he worked in. This is also where he must have sustained the injury that led to his hospitalisation for a number of years.

1939 - 1943: period of illness due to hip injury.

I knew that he'd been hospitalised on an island off the west coast of Scotland for the majority of this period but his CV lists the hospital as 'St Andrew's Home, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae'. It appears to have been closed down now but I'm still trying to find any history of the hospital.

1943 - 1952: Capstan & Milling Machine Operator/Setter - various firms in Worcester, London and Manchester

I knew that he'd lived in these three areas but I had no idea what his work was. I wish I knew which companies he'd worked for though.

The rest of the cv covers his career in Scotland and shows him moving up from the manual work to clerical work and thereon to supervisory and managerial roles which I already knew about.

Did your twentieth century ancestors leave cv's behind? If so, have a delve. You may be surprised what you discover.


  1. No CV from my Grandfather, just some ships papers from the early 1900's that show his voyages as an apprentice seaman and then a navigator in the RNR (Royal Naval Reserve) in the Forst World War.

    The most interesting described his first voyage in 1903, out to Australia in a 4-masted sailing ship which ended up on a reef in the Pacific.

    I managed to find some articles in the press about the ship (very hard to find what little there is), and it had a really eventful history, which I am now researching to write a book.

    Sadly my grandfather died in 1953, the year before I was born, so I never knew him. He also had a stroke in the 1940's which took away his speech, so my only surviving uncle didn't really even get to know him, and I can't expand on the story too much other than through digitised newspaper articles.

    It's such a shame what got thrown away years ago, and now would make a real treasure trove.

  2. That's really interesting, Tony. I have very few family members left so I can sympathise. Good luck with the book.