1921 Census of England and Wales launched today!

Findmypast and The National Archives today publish the highly anticipated 1921 Census of England and Wales online, as the 100-year rule, which ensures records are closed to the public for 100 years, has ended.

After three years of intensive conservation and digitisation and with the help and support of the Office for National Statistics, the Census is now available to search and explore online, only at Findmypast.co.uk.

Taken on June 19th 1921 after being delayed by two months due to industrial unrest, the 1921 Census saw over 38,000 enumerators dispatched to every corner of England of Wales to capture the details of more than 38 million people. This included over 8.5 million households as well as all manner of public and private institutions ranging from prisons and military bases to public schools and workhouses.

Offering more detail than any previous census ever taken, the 1921 Census of England and Wales not only asked individuals about their age, birth place, occupation and residence (including the names of other household members and the number of rooms), but also their place of work, employer details, and gave ‘divorced’ as an option for marital status.

Now accessible to the public for the first time, these valuable documents provide visitors to Findmypast with millions of unique opportunities to uncover the lives of their ancestors, the history of their homes and communities, as well as providing a fascinating snapshot of life during an era that will resonate with many today.

Falling between the two world wars, the record paints a disparate picture of England and Wales, from the Royal household to the average working-class citizen, still reeling from the impact of WW1 a major housing crisis, the Spanish flu pandemic, ravaged economy and industrial turmoil.

The publication of these documents will mark the last significant census release for England and Wales in many people’s lifetime as the 1931 Census was destroyed in a fire and the 1941 Census was never captured due to the Second World War. This means the next census will not be available until 2052.

Records reveal the lives of both the ordinary and extraordinary, documenting everyone from war veterans, widows and orphans, working women and vagrants to prominent individuals such as national treasure Sir Captain Tom Moore, mathematician and Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing, Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien, Tale of Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter, first female MP to take her seat in Parliament Nancy Astor, The Royal Family and many more.

1921 Census of England & Wales launching January 2022

Findmypast and The National Archives have announced that the 1921 Census of England & Wales will be published online on 6 January 2022.

1921 Census of England & Wales launching January 2022

From that day forward, everyone will be able to search and explore the census online, only at Findmypast. For the first time, the details of 38 million people captured in over 18 million colour images will be made available to all, enabling the public to access the previously unseen archival material from the comfort of their home. The 1921 Census offers more detail than all previous England and Wales censuses. Individuals were asked not only about their occupations but also their place of work, employer, and were given ‘Divorced’ as an option for marital status.
Visitors to Findmypast will not only have the ability to discover what life was like in England and Wales a century ago by discovering where, how and with whom their ancestors were living, but will also be able to search by address to uncover the history of their local area or home and the stories of former occupants.
For more than two and a half years and counting, a team of hundreds of Findmypast conservators, technicians and transcribers have undertaken the invaluable task of conserving, transcribing and digitising the 1921 census in association with The National Archives and with the help and support of the Office for National Statistics.
It is the largest project ever completed by The National Archives and Findmypast, consisting of more than 30,000 bound volumes of original documents stored on 1.6 linear kilometres of shelving.
Every page of the fragile physical documents had to be handled by a trained conservation technician who was responsible for a variety of delicate tasks including removing any objects that could damage the paper, correcting folds covering the text, teasing apart pages that had become stuck together, restoring tears and checking for and repairing other damage.
Once every page was examined, cleaned and repaired if required, Findmypast’s scanning team created an image of every page as well as any attachments and the front and back covers of each volume. Each image was then quality checked before being stored on a secure server.
This highly anticipated launch is likely to be the last significant census release for England and Wales in many people’s lifetime. Taken once a decade, the census remains secret for 100 years before being opened to the public. However, as the 1931 Census was destroyed in a fire at the Office for Works in 1942, and the 1941 Census was never captured owing to the outbreak of the Second World War, the 1921 Census will fill a huge gap for historians.

First World War Dependant’s Pension entry

Another document I came across recently was the First World War Dependant’s Pension entry for Alfred Mansel Young. He is my brick wall and I love to discover any information about him. For some reason he left the family home in Portsmouth and went to live with relatives in South Wales.

In this entry for Dependant’s Pension his address is given as his father’s home in Portsmouth, 4 Woodland Street, Kingston. His father was awarded a small pension of just 5 shillings a week between 16 January 1919 to the 12 May 1920.

WWI Dependant's Pension

First World War War Gratuity entry

It’s been a while since I’ve had any time to record recent finds. I found this entry for my Great Uncle Alfred Mansel Young. Unfortunately I didn’t record the document it came from but it shows money paid to his father Mansel Young after his death. Need to do more research on this one!

WWI Gratuity

{New} England & Wales Electoral Registers 1920-1932

In partnership with the British Library, Find My Past have recently added over 16 million names to the England & Wales Electoral Registers collection. Voting lists are compiled annually of people who are eligible to vote and include their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property. You’re likely to find your ancestor featured more than once.

Electoral Registers can reveal fascinating facts for your family tree including:

  • Your relatives’ names and addresses
  • Their occupations or ages (sometimes)
  • The year of the register
  • Nature of qualification or a description of the property
  • The name, description and residence of the landlord or other person to whom rent is paid
  • The polling district or place and constituency your ancestors were registered

This invaluable record set includes those first entitled to vote after 1918 and is an excellent substitute for the lost 1931 England & Wales Census.

First World War Pension ledgers

To honour Memorial Day and the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, I was able to get free access to Fold3 last week. I hadn’t heard of this site until I was browsing Ancestry and found a record on Fold3. I wasn’t willing to pay for access, so was happy to wait and I was rewarded!

The record was for my great uncle, Alfred Mansel Young. He died in the First World War and there was a record of him in the Pension ledgers. He died on 24th July 1916 and his father, Mansel Young, made a claim. It shows his address as 6 Woodland Street, Kingston, Portsmouth. It looks like a summary rather than a full record with any correspondence, but it was still good to discover.

First World War Pension ledgers