Findmypast has revealed a sneak peek of the digitisation process of the 1921 Census of England and Wales, which will be officially published online by Findmypast on 6 January 2022.
Taken on 19 June 1921, the census paints a vivid picture of the population as it was on that one night one hundred years ago.
For 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.
Everyone will be able to search and explore the census online, only at Findmypast, from 6 January 2022, allowing them to access the previously unseen archival material from the comfort of their homes. Users can discover more about their family’s past and learn what life was like in England and Wales a century ago.
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.
Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast says:
“It has been a great honour for Findmypast to work alongside The National Archives as its commercial partner to reveal the extraordinary stories captured by 1921 Census of England & Wales. Taken between two world wars, following a global flu pandemic, during a period of economic turmoil and migration from the UK, and with social change at home as women won the right to vote, the 1921 Census documents a moment in time that will resonate with people living today.
I am incredibly proud of our Findmypast team who have worked with passion and dedication for thousands of hours to conserve, scan, and transcribe 38 million historical records from 30,000 volumes of delicate original documents. As a result of their diligent work, when the Census is opened for the very first-time next year, family historians around the world will be able to meaningfully search the Census to reveal where and how their ancestors lived and worked 100 years ago.
The 1921 Census offers more detail than any previous one taken. For the first time, 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. As well as searching for individuals, users will also have the ability to search the census by address to uncover the history of their local area or home and the stories of former occupants.
Taken between two world wars, during a period of economic turmoil and at a time when women had just won the right to vote, the 1921 Census will reveal some incredible findings about society and how it has evolved over the past 100 years.
Neil Curtis, Chief Operating Officer at The National Archives, says: “Census releases are keenly anticipated and create a period of collective curiosity about the past, generating a national moment of reflection.
“The 1921 Census will offer us a glimpse into the lives of individuals and communities between the wars, recovering from a great influenza pandemic, and embarking on a new era where everyday rights and roles were changing.
“What makes the 1921 Census even more vital is that it will be the last census release for England and Wales for 30 years, with the 1931 Census lost in a fire and the 1941 Census never taken.
“As home to more than 1,000 years of history, The National Archives is delighted to be working with Findmypast to open up this unique collection to the world.”