30 March 2020
We take a look at what family historians can expect from the 1921 UK census.
If you’ve been researching your family tree, chances are you’ll have used or heard about the census and its value to anyone with UK ancestors. The census has been taken every 10 years from 1841 (so in 1851, 1861 etc) and provides us with a look at where our ancestors were on census night.
- Each census is released to the public after 100 years, meaning that on 6 January 2022 we can access the 1921 census, covering England and Wales.
- The census in Northern Ireland was taken in 1926 and its reports can be seen here. The 1926 census is due to be released to the public in January 2027.
- Scotland's census will be released by ScotlandsPeople and was originally scheduled for a June 2021 release.
On 17 June 2021, the following notice was placed on the ScotlandsPeople website:
We will release indexed images of the 1921 Scottish Census on scotlandspeople.gov.uk and in the ScotlandsPeople Centre in the latter half of 2022. We’ll keep you updated on progress via our digital channels.
The data has, broadly speaking, become more comprehensive over time and has progressed over the decades from basic name, address and age, to include information such as how members of a household are related to each other if applicable and details of employment and place of birth.
Background to the 1921 census
The 1921 England and Wales census, to be released on 6 January 2022, will be the most informative yet for family historians. It was taken on 19 June 1921 and records information on almost 38 million individuals.
- New information not available on previous census includes:
- Place of employment
- Industry in which employed
- Materials worked with
- Name of employer
- Marital status for those 15 or older (with ‘divorce’ as a status for the first time on the census)
- Details of whether or not parents still alive for those under 15
- Whether the person spoken an additional language (for returns in Isle of Man and Wales)
This was also the first census that allowed people to submit a confidential return, meaning that people may have been more willing to reveal information about divorces, relationships between family members etc, in these circumstances.
This new data will allow us to discover more about our ancestors’ daily lives by working out, for example, how far they travelled to work, the size of the company they worked for, where their employer lived, etc. And anyone with an ancestor who employed others will be able to find out about the members of their workforce.
How and when can I explore the 1921 census?
FindMyPast has been chosen as the commercial partner for The National Archives to make the 1921 census available online. They will capture digital images and transcribe the records to allow family historians (and anyone else interested!) to explore them.
Researchers will also be able to see the images free of charge at The National Archives in Kew.
People aged over 100 years who don’t wish to be included within the release have been, since 2004, allowed to apply to have their record taken down.
Details on pricing will be available nearer the time of release. In the meantime, you can read more about the release at FindMyPast.