Findmypast Announces Project to Digitise & Publish 1921 Census of England & Wales

Leading British family history website, Findmypast, has announced their acquisition of genealogy startup Twile, creators of the visual family history timeline and winner of two RootsTech innovation awards.

Findmypast Wins Contract for 1921 Census of England & Wales Online

The National Archives in association with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has awarded leading British & Irish family history website Findmypast the contract to digitise and publish the 1921 Census online

In the most anticipated family history development since the online publication of the 1939 Register, Findmypast has been selected as The National Archives’ commercial partner to make the 1921 Census of England & Wales available online.

The census, which was the first to be conducted following the introduction of the Census Act of 1920, will be published online by Findmypast in January 2022.

The project will see Findmypast capture digital images and transcribe the records in a way that will enable family historians across the globe to conduct meaningful searches of these important records when they are opened for the very first time.

Taken on 19th June 1921, the census consists of more than 28,000 bound volumes of original household returns containing detailed information on close to 38 million individuals.

It provides greater detail than any previous census as, in addition to the questions asked in 1911, the 1921 returns also asked householders to reveal their place of employment, the industry they worked in and the materials they worked with as well as their employer’s name. Those aged 15 and older were required to provide information about their marital status, including if divorced, while for those under 15 the census recorded whether both parents were alive or if either or both had died.

The 1921 Census also included detailed questions on education, and was the first in which individual householders could submit separate confidential returns.

Tamsin Todd, CEO of Findmypast, says: “This announcement is important for all family historians tracing their ancestors living in Britain in the early twentieth century. It provides a fascinating snapshot of how people lived and worked in the years following World War 1, and it’s all the more important because there’s no surviving census for the next two decades until 1951.”

Neil Curtis, Finance and Commercial Director at The National Archives, said: “This is the most significant digitisation project The National Archives has undertaken to date, with the 1921 census containing detailed information on close to 38 million individuals. As home to more than 1,000 years of history, we are delighted to be working with Findmypast to open up this unique record collection to the world.”

Pete Benton, Census Operations Director at The Office for National Statistics, said:“The 1921 Census records are a unique opportunity to uncover details of how your family lived and worked in a period of massive socio-economic change in post-World War One Britain. They give greater detail than any previous census and are eagerly anticipated by genealogists the world over. At ONS, we keep census records under tight security for 100 years and we are very much looking forward to enabling this invaluable source of history to be made available to the public in January 2022.”

Collections previously digitised by Findmypast in association with The National Archives include the 1939 Register, Prisoners of War 1715 to 1945, Easter Rising & Ireland under martial law 1916-1921, Crime, Prisons and Punishment; outbound passenger lists; British Army Service records; Merchant Navy Seamen’s records; Maritime Birth, Marriage and Death indexes; and the 1911 Census.

For more information, please visit: https://www.findmypast.co.uk/1921-census

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Thomas MacEntee
Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee has been researching his family history for more than 40 years and is the creator of Abundant Genealogy, Genealogy Bargains, DNA Bargains, The Genealogy Do-Over and numerous other web-based genealogy and family history properties.