It's not a census! It's the 1939 Register!

Nearly two years ago, Findmypast announced that they had won the bid to work in partnership with the National Archives to digitise the 1939 Register for England and Wales.

Many researchers hadn't heard of the Register before, but for those in the know, this was a huge bonus and would make a big difference to our research.

Since then Findmypast have conserved, scanned, transcribed and digitised over 1.2 million pages from 7000 volumes representing over 41 million individual entries from over 2000 residences.

Initially only available on a pay-per-view basis, the 1939 Register is now available to all annual Worldwide or United Kingdom collection subscribers.  Those that subscribe to the US, Australia and New Zealand, or Ireland collections will still have to pay per view - as will those who only subscribe on a month-to-month basis.

What is the 1939 Register?

The Register was a snap census taken on 29 September 1939 at the start of Second World War to be used to issue identity cards, plan evacuations, establish rationing and inform conscription and other wartime activities.

Questions asked were:

  • Name 
  • Sex 
  • Age (including actual date of birth) 
  • Occupation 
  • Address 
  • Marital status 
  • Membership of naval, military or air force reserves, auxiliary forces or civil defence services or reserves 
Post-war it went on to form the basis of the NHS and the Register was maintained and updated by them until at least 1991.

The Register bridges the gaps between censuses. The 1911 census is the last to be published, and the 1921 won't be published till 2022 due to the 1920 Census Act which closes this record set for 100 years. The 1931 census was destroyed in a fire, and the 1941 census was never taken due to the 
Second World War - the next available census will be the 1951, which is closed until 2052.

Transcription view for Eliza Fipkin
The image view of the Fipkin household, plus other households on the street

The records that are still officially closed are those that were born less than 100 years go, and are believed to still be alive. Researchers finding such entries that they believe to be incorrect can apply to have them opened.

Happy hunting