The 1939 Register

On the 2nd November, 2015, findmypast in conjunction with the National Archives released a digitised version of the 1939 Register.

What is it?

The 1939 Register is a record of approximately 41 million people living in England and Wales as at 29th September 1939. It is the most important release of family history information in England and Wales since the 1911 census.

On the eve of the second World War the British Government passed an Act which allowed a survey of the population to be taken. Its purpose was to provide a comprehensive list of all people so that a National Identity Card system could be introduced, and provide a basis for the Rationing system. In addition, it was used as a basis for conscription, and after the war, the foundation of the National Health Service.

Why is it important?

A national population census, in England and Wales, has been taken every 10 years since 1801, with the exception of 1941 due to the War. The Census Act of 1920 prevents the details of any census being released until at least 100 years after it was taken. The last census release was that for 1911, and the 1921 census is not due for release until at least 2022. The 1931 census was destroyed by fire whilst in storage in a warehouse, and there was no census taken in 1941 due to the War.

Due to this the 1939 Register helps to bridge the period 1921-1951, and for the next few years 1911-1951, where no other national records are available.

What does it contain?

The 1939 Register contains the details of approximately 41 million people living in England and Wales. It includes names, addresses, full dates of birth, occupations, and any aliases or other names the person could have been known by (e.g. married womens' maiden names, or changes of name by Deed Poll).

It does not contain the details of either serving military Officers or men unless they were on formal leave, as they were administered through the military systems.

It is not a census per-se, but in some respects more important.

Note: At the time of release some of the information on living individuals will be blacked out, or redacted, due to privacy issues.

How do I access it?

To access the 1939 Register just simply visit the homepage at findmypast.co.uk/1939register