1921 England and Wales census release date confirmed


27 October 2021
FindMyPast and The National Archives have announced the online release date for the 1921 Census of England & Wales.

The 1921 Census of England and Wales will be published online on 6 January 2022. 

This is the largest project ever completed by The UK National Archives and FindMyPast, consisting of more than 30,000 bound volumes of original documents stored on 1.6 linear kilometres of shelving. 

From 6 January 2022 onwards, everyone will be able to search and explore the census online, only at FindMyPast. For the first time, the details of 38 million people captured in over 20 million colour images will be made available to all, enabling the public to access the previously unseen archival material from the comfort of their home. 

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What information does the 1921 Census contain?

The 1921 Census offers more detail than all previous England and Wales censuses. 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. 

QUICK LINK: Sign up the Family Tree 1921 Census online conference!

Visitors to FindMyPast will not only have the ability to discover what life was like in England and Wales a century ago by discovering where, how and with whom their ancestors were living, but will also be able to search by address to uncover the history of their local area or home and the stories of former occupants. 

For more than two and a half years, a team of hundreds of FindMyPast conservators, technicians and transcribers have undertaken the 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. 

Every page of the fragile physical documents had to be handled by a trained conservation technician who was responsible for a variety of delicate tasks including removing any objects that could damage the paper, correcting folds covering the text, teasing apart pages that had become stuck together, restoring tears and checking for and repairing other damage. 

Once every page was examined, cleaned and repaired if required, Findmypast’s scanning team created an image of every page as well as any attachments and the front and back covers of each volume. Each image was then quality checked before being stored on a secure server. 

The last census for a lifetime...

This 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. 

Snapshot of life in the 1920s

Tamsin Todd, CEO of FindMyPast said: '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.' 

Neil Curtis, Chief Operating Officer at The National Archives, said: '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. 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.' 

More details than any previous census

Mary McKee, Head of Content Publishing Operations at FindMyPast added: 'We are so excited to be able to reveal the incredible hard work that our team of expert conservators and technicians have put into preserving this crucial part of our nation’s history.

'We are particularly excited to reveal the 1921 Census as 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 marital status, place of employment, the industry they worked in and the materials they worked with as well as their employer’s name.

'Over the course of the restoration and digitization process, we have discovered thousands of extraordinary stories from the lives of seemingly ordinary people as well as an abundance of famous figures who helped shaped the world we now live in. This includes literary giants, cultural icons, inventors and innovators, pioneering women, royalty, politicians, campaigners and reformers, forgotten figures and much more.

'We can’t wait to help people discover their ancestors, uncover the history of their homes or reveal the secrets hidden in these pages when the 100-year rule lifts. In the meantime, we are thrilled to be able to show off the incredible work that has gone into bringing the 1921 census online and get the public talking about this fascinating era ahead of the launch in January.'

Visit FindMyPast to find out more about the 1921 Census of England & Wales, the vast project to bring it online, what it reveals and how to access it. 

Further reading

Five census clues to help you avoid getting into a tangle

Discover crucial clues from the 1881 UK Census that will help you avoid going down the wrong track with your research and getting into a muddle.

What information does the 1851 UK census contain?

Find your UK ancestor on the 1851 census with our guide to the dates the census was taken and what information it contains.

Why can’t I find my ancestor on the census?

Locate your missing ancestors on the census, with these top tips on using the census for family history.

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