New fee-paying access to 1939 National Register announced

By Matt Elton, 16 February 2010 - 11:53am

The NHS Information Centre has announced that it will be providing access to data collected in the 1939 National Register – but at a cost

The register, which has been at the centre of two high-profile campaigns under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation, was a nationwide census-style emergency survey conducted on 29 September 1939. The data was collected in order to issue identity cards at the start of the Second World War, and features a wealth of information including name, date of birth, occupation and address. 

The new fee-paying service makes the data from England and Wales available to postal applicants for a cost of £42 per address. Information can be requested on a specific individual, on a named individual and up to nine other people at the same address, or the details of an address and up to ten of its residents. In all cases applications for information can only be made for people who have died and are now officially registered as deceased, and applicants may be required to prove that this is the case.

The fee being charged in England is more than three times that charged for a similar service offered by the General Register Office for Scotland, and is non-refundable, including in cases where the search is unsuccessful. Despite the cost, the data could offer family historians a rare nationwide snapshot of life in the middle part of the twentieth century. The Second World War prevented a census from being carried out in 1941 and the previous decade's results were lost in a fire, making the register the only surviving nationwide survey for a period of more than thirty years.

Take it Further

To read more about what's available and make an application, visit the NHS Information Centre's website here.

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