Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fantastic Find: 1939 England and Wales Register

If your family tree includes people living in 20th century England or Wales* you already know that census records in the U.K. are generally released 100 years after they were collected, so the most recent enumerations currently available are from 1911. (And I just discovered that their 1931 census was destroyed during World War II and no count was done in 1941 so, in any case, there's a 30 year gap in what will eventually be made public.)

However, after Britain declared war on Nazi Germany on September 3, 1939, the government created a register of its citizens "with the purpose of producing National Identity Cards, the register later came to be multi-functional, first as an aid in the use of ration books and later helping officials record the movement of the civilian population over the following decades and from 1948, as the basis for the National Health Service Register."**

If you're looking for more information about someone who was alive at that time the Register is an excellent database to search in--for instance, everyone's birth date is listed.*** Here's a page taken at random (people on the list who might be still alive have their information blacked out):

[ 1939 England and Wales Register [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2018. Original data:
Crown copyright images reproduced by courtesy of TNA, London England. 1939 Register (Series RG101),
The National Archives, Kew, London, England.]

Although the lists covered the persons in each house on September 29, 1939, further information has been added in cases where the original details needed correction which include the married names of women who had been single on that date.

I've been having great fun adding this information to all the relatives of my British-born friend Margaret who asked me to help her with her family tree. Using the Register we were able to locate her maternal grandmother whose whereabouts she hadn't known before.

*But not from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
**Quoted from the Historical Context of the 1939 England and Wales Register on
***This is important because most of the available birth information for the U.K. is found in indexes which only give the quarter the birth took place.

© 2018 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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