An overview of the 1921 census released before the January publication

THE public will be able to learn more about how their ancestors lived and worked in the aftermath of World War I and the Spanish influenza pandemic when the 1921 census was released in January.

Taken on June 19, 1921, the archives contain information on nearly 38 million people who lived in Wales and England between the wars, during a time of economic turmoil and when women had just obtained the right to vote.

The impact of World War I on society was the most significant to be reflected in the investigation, according to Audrey Collins, family history records specialist at the National Archives.

“You have the soldiers who came back physically or mentally injured. Many people have died in the influenza pandemic, many people have been disabled by it. There has been a big shift in the balance of professions in particular and the gender balance, ”she told the PA news agency.

A team from the Findmypast genealogy site and the National Archives spent three years preserving, digitizing and transcribing the 1921 census before its publication in January (Findmypast / PA)

Genealogy website Findmypast and the National Archives on Wednesday revealed a snapshot of census results, which they spent three years digitizing, ahead of next year’s release.

In addition to the places of birth, names, ages, and occupations of people, the questionnaire also recorded who was living in a house at the time, as well as the occupants’ relationship to the head of the household – placing their stories in context. of their families and communities.

The 1921 census is more detailed than any previous one, as it asked people for the first time about their place of work, employer and industry, as well as their full-time or part-time education.

Unlike previous surveys, respondents could select “Divorced” as an option for marital status.

The census also asked if the children were orphans, revealing the impact of World War I, with 730,000 children registered with “Father dead” against 260,000 with “Mother dead”.

1921 census records An insect that has died at some point in the past 100 years is removed from the 1921 census pages during the conservation process (Findmypast / PA)

“It will be really interesting, where we have potentially blended families with widows or widowers who remarry,” Ms. Collins said.

Besides households, the census also contains information on people who lived in institutions such as hospitals or prisons, barracks, naval bases and work houses.

Also included are Royal Navy ships and RAF units stationed overseas, including in territories newly under British administration after the war, such as Mesopotamia – modern Iraq.

From January 6, 2022, anyone will be able to view the census online at Findmypast, allowing them to learn about their ancestors and learn about the history of their home or neighborhood.

Ms Collins said: “There are always people who find something they weren’t expecting. A completely unexpected parent may have been visiting or some really interesting occupations. Sometimes people find out that their grandfather was in prison.

1921 census recordsInstructions on how to complete the 1921 census are included in one of the 30,000 volumes of original documents (Findmypast / PA)

The documents can only be opened to the public next year because, under the census law of 1920, they are to be kept secret for 100 years.

The census has been carried out every 10 years since 1801, but two surveys are missing from the national registers.

The 1931 survey for Wales and England was completely destroyed in a fire in 1942 at Hayes, Middlesex, where it was stored, while the 1941 census was never taken because of the Second World War.

This makes the 1921 census all the more valuable to historians, as the next one is not expected to be published until 2052.

Publication of 1921 census documentsHundreds of curators, technicians and transcriptionists worked to make the census accessible online (Findmypast / PA)

A team from Findmypast and the National Archives worked to preserve, transcribe and digitize the 1921 census, consisting of over 30,000 volumes of delicate original documents stored in 1.6 linear kilometers of shelving.

Mary McKee, Head of Content Publishing Operations at Findmypast, said: “During the process of restoration and digitization, we have uncovered thousands of extraordinary stories from the lives of seemingly ordinary people as well as an abundance of personalities. famous people who helped shape the world we live in now.

“This includes literary giants, cultural icons, inventors and innovators, pioneer women, royalty, politicians, activists and reformers, forgotten figures and much more.

“We look forward to helping people discover their ancestors, uncover the history of their homes, or reveal the secrets hidden in these pages when the 100-year rule is lifted. ”


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