Thursday 28 October 2021

Ten weeks to release of the 1921 census of England and Wales

The National Archives (TNA) at Kew, London and FindMyPast have announced that the 1921 Census of England and Wales will be released to the public on 6 January 1922. Visitors to TNA will be able to view digital images free of charge. Researchers viewing the online collection – exclusively at FindMyPast – will have to pay £2.50 to view a transcription and £3.50 to view an image of the census return; search results, showing name, age, birthplace, and one or two other names in the same census return, will be free.

Click to view the census enumerators' full instruction sheet
This census was taken on Sunday 19 June 1921, having been postponed from 29 April 121 due to the arrival of economic depression following WW1 and Spanish Flu, and a threat of imminent strike action from miners, transport and railway workers, and dockers.

It gathered information on more than 38million individuals, resulting in 18,235,242 census return images. Most of the data requested was similar to that required in previous censuses but there are some changes and additions. Not only was a person's occupation noted, as before, now the person's employer's name and address was recorded.

Take a look at the examples shown in the Instructions provided for enumerators (click image, right) and you'll soon spot the differences, most of which are positive. I just wish that, instead of having to note any and all household guests who normally lived elsewhere as 'visitor', some provision had been made to record their kinship, if there was any relationship.

Please note this census relates only to England and Wales. Scotland's 1921 Census will be published in the second half of 2022 on ScotlandsPeople. No censuses were taken in Ireland that year due to the War of Independence. The 1921 Censuses of Ireland and Northern Ireland were not taken due to the War of Independence.

As such, the 1921 English and Wales census, and that for Scotland when it is published, will be of interest not only to British researchers but also to those with Irish ancestors. By 1921, and especially due to the unsettled political scene on the island, many Irish researchers will find forbears working or living, temporarily or permanently, in Great Britain.

Unfortunately, the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire in 1942. The 1931 census of Scotland survives. No census was taken in the UK in 1941 because of the Second World War.