Researchers at east London’s Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have been granted special access to war bond ledgers at the Bank of England, which list those who helped bankroll Britain’s war effort from 1914-1918.
The announcement comes as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne paid out the last bond.
The Bank’s collection of 1,300 stock ledgers are being made available to the public over the next few years but QMUL staff will get a head start.
The ledgers have been closed for 100 years but will yield up the private investors who responded to the Government’s call for money to fund the Great War.
Historial geographer Dr Alastair Owens said: “The project takes us back to a time of immense crisis in Britain. The government was worried not just about its military readiness, but its ability to pay for a campaign of such immense size, scope and duration.
“Britain was singularly unprepared for such enormous unplanned expenditure, and the First World War precipitated a financial crisis from which the country would not emerge for many years,” said Dr Owens.
Archive manager at the Bank of England Dr Mike Anson said: “Although we have a large amount of material from this period in the archive we currently know very little about it.
“The results of the project will be of immense importance to historians, economists, and the great many people who seek a clearer understanding of the dynamics which underpinned wartime Britain."
The bond the Chancellor paid off was known as the 3.5% War Loan. It was issued in 1932 by his predecessor at No.11 Neville Chamberlain as part of a campaign to reduce the costs of servicing the national debt.
It was issued as an exchange for the previous 5% War Loan 1929-47, which had originally come out in 1917 to raise money for the First World War.
The Debt Management Office estimates that Britain has paid £5.5billion in total interest on the 5% and 3.5% war loans since 1917.
The archive project is the latest collaboration between QMUL and the Bank of England, and will ultimately lead to a new display and suite of learning materials at the Bank’s museum.