I received a press release from Findmypast about the launch of the 1939 Register which I wanted to share.
On November 2nd 2015, the eagerly awaited 1939 Register will be launched online by Findmypast, a world leader in family history. Anyone can now discover their family, their home and their community on the eve of WWII. Until now, the most recent information available was the 1911 census. Owing to the 100 year rule, the 1921 census will not be released until 2022, while the 1931 census was destroyed in the war and the 1941 census was never taken. The 1939 Register therefore bridges an important 30-year gap in history.
In September 1939, WWII had just broken out. 65,000 enumerators were employed to visit every house in England and Wales to take stock of the civil population. The information that they recorded was used to issue Identity Cards, plan mass evacuations, establish rationing and co-ordinate other war-time provisions. In the longer term, the 1939 Register would go on to play a central role in the establishment of post-war services like the NHS.
Comprising 1.2 million pages in 7,000 volumes and documenting the lives of 41 million people, the 1939 Register opens a window to a world on the brink of cataclysmic change. Each record includes the names of inhabitants at each address, their date of birth, marital status and occupation. A wealth of contextual information, including period photographs never before seen online, infographics, region-specific newspaper articles and historical and contemporary maps, are personally tailored to each record, offering a rich and unique user experience unrivalled by any other family history research tool to date.
Findmypast has undertaken a monumental task in digitising the 1939 Register. Stacked end-to-end, the hard copy volumes would have reached twice the height of St Paul’s Cathedral. Work on conserving, scanning, transcribing and digitising the Register has been ongoing for more than a year. Despite the challenge of translating 65,000 unique sets of handwriting, including updates that have been made by hand up until 1991, Findmypast guarantees at least 98.5% accuracy of readable records. The result is a direct route to the past that will allow users to glimpse their family, their home and their communities in 1939, as they’ve never seen them before.