The 1939 Register

The 1939 Register has recently been launched by Findmypast in association with the National Archives. It is the most comprehensive survey of the population of England and Wales ever taken.

In December 1938 it was announced in the House of Commons that in the event of war, a National Register would be taken that listed the personal details of every civilian in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This Register was to be a critical tool in coordinating the war effort at home. It would be used to issue identity cards, organise rationing and more.

On September 1st, 1939 Germany invaded Poland, and Britain declared war on the 3rd. On September 29th, having issued forms to more than 41 million people, the enumerators visited every household in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to collect the names, addresses, martial statuses and other key details of every civilian in the country, issuing identity cards on the spot.

Until now the most recent information available is the 1911 Census and because of the 100 year rule, the 1921 census will not be released until 2022. The 1931 census was destroyed in the war and the 1941 census was never taken.

The 1939 Register, then, represents one of the most important documents in 20th century Britain. The information it contains not only helped toward the war effort, it was also used in the founding of the NHS.

The Register is free to search but there is a charge to view the records with different pay per view packages starting at £6.95 to view one household. Not all of the 41, million records are available to view due to data protection restrictions.

£6.95 to view one household is a lot of money, and if you have several households to check can be prohibitive, but the good news is that from the 16th February 2016, Findmypast are giving unlimited access as part of the subscription for existing members.

So if you need help with your research then get in touch with All Your Ancestors.


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