1921 census

Release of the 1921 Census

Scotland began conducting its 2021 Census rehearsal in October 2019. 72,000 households were selected to receive an online questionnaire, to be completed by 7 November.

So, what does this mean for the genealogist? As this new census is taken, it means we can look forward to the release of the 1921 census for England, Wales and Scotland which was taken on the night of Sunday 19 June 1921.

 Census records have been recorded every 10 years since 1801 and are incredibly useful for tracing your family tree. The 1841 census however, was the first UK national census to collect personal information from UK inhabitants. It is therefore the first census to be of value when tracing your ancestors, and subsequent years have improved and expanded on the information recorded. The downside is that the ‘100-year rule’ applies before any census is released into the public domain. Exceptions to that rule have been made where there has been a partial early release of the 1939 register in England and Wales.

According to ONS (Office for National Statistics) the entirety of the 1921 census will be released in 2022. Popular genealogy site findmypast has been awarded the contract to digitise the 1921 census for England and Wales for publication in 2022.

We will therefore be able to trace the family details of our more recent ancestors, but you may discover that they may not be where you expect them to be. Why? Because the 1921 census was postponed by almost two months due to the Black Friday strike by coal miners, railwaymen and transport workers. Particularly for England, the census night of Sunday 19 June 1921 coincided with the Macclesfield industrial holiday, showing marked population increases at seaside towns such as Blackpool and Southend-on-Sea.

The questions gathered in the 1921 census were:

  • Name of person
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Age – this was now required as years and completed months, rather than just years as in previous censuses
  • Sex
  • If age 15 or over, whether single, married or divorced
  • If under age 15, whether parents are living, “both alive”, “father dead”, “mother dead” or “both dead”
  • Birthplace, county and town or parish (or country plus state, province or district for persons born abroad)
  • If born abroad, nationality
  • Whether attending school or other educational establishment
  • Trade employer    

Further reading:

The 1921 Census and 1921 Census and Scotland’s 2021 Census

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