Thursday, 30 April 2015

More on the 1939 Register for England and Wales

On 24 September 1939 enumerators distributed forms which were compiled into a register of the population of England and Wales. The forms were collected on 29 September. Although it was not a census much of the information collected was census-like. Information in the record is Address; Surname; First Forename; Other Forename(s)/Initial(s); Date of Birth' Sex; Marital Status,Occupation, whether a member of the armed forces reserve (although that was not captured consistently.) For those in an institution there will be an indication of the person's status.

As there was no census in 1941, taking the regular decennial census was hardly a priority, this is particularly valuable information. Also the 1931 census was destroyed so this is the only thing close to as census between 1921 and 1951.

Findmypast in partnership with The National Archives are publishing the 1939 Register online. Digitization of 7,000 volumes with 40,000,000 entries is in progress. The originals are paper copies, not microfilm, so the image quality is good.

Good news is that the collection is substantially complete, no known missing pages, and organized with occupants of a house together. The cost to access is undetermined. Will it be part of the regular Findmypast subscription? Let's hope so but if not it will certainly cost less that the current £40.

Not so good news is that there is a legal embargo on availability of records for living people under 100 years of age. Findmypast will screen records to identify the deceased and open records if a person can be proved to be deceased. This will be particularly valuable for those who emigrated and died overseas.

There will be an indication of when people in a household have been redacted.  Also members of the Armed Forces were not listed as they had already been called up for military service. However, membership of Naval, Military or Air Force Reserves or Auxiliary Forces or of Civil Defence Services is available if collected.

Behind the scenes the project is a substantial employer with people conserving the originals since late summer last year, scanning, indexing and quality control.

The database should be available "towards the end of this year."

I'd like to thank Jim from Findmypast for filling in some of the gaps in information available on this dataset.

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