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The 1921 census – everything you need to know!

The 1921 census for England and Wales is now available online. Here is everything you need to know about the 1921 census including how to access it and what it will tell you.

Holidaymakers queue for an open-top bus, 1921 census

Do you have any questions about the release of the 1921 census for England and Wales? We are here to help with our guide to everything you need to know about the 1921 census and how to use it to find your British ancestors.

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How can I access 1921 census records?

The 1921 census for England and Wales is now available on Findmypast. Records cost £2.50 for every transcript and £3.50 for every individual image, with a 10% discount for Findmypast’s Pro subscribers. You can find out more about how to search for records with our guide.

View records from the 1921 census for England and Wales here

Is the 1921 census included in a Findmypast subscription package?

The 1921 census is not currently included in any Findmypast subscription package. However, when Findmypast launched the 1911 census and the 1939 Register previously, they were also not included in any subscription packages initially. They were later added to an enhanced subscription package and then to standard subscription packages. Although Findmypast has not specifically said it will follow this model, it is generally assumed that the 1921 census will eventually be part of a subscription package on Findmypast.

When is the 1921 census being added to Ancestry?

Findmypast has exclusivity for up to three years, after which The National Archives (TNA) will be able to set up deals with other partners such as Ancestry, TheGenealogist or MyHeritage. As with previous record digitisation projects, such as the 1911 census release, Findmypast owns its transcription but the copyright for the images is with TNA. This means, when the exclusive relationship comes to an end, other competitors will have to license the images from TNA and the transcription from Findmypast (or, as Ancestry and TheGenealogist did with 1911, create their own transcription).

How can you access the 1921 census for free?

You can view 1921 census records for free at access hubs at The National Archives in London, the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and Manchester Central Library.

When will the Scottish 1921 census be released?

The 1921 census for Scotland will be released on ScotlandsPeople later this year.

When was the 1921 census taken?

The 1921 census was taken on 19 June 1921. It was originally due to be taken on 24 April, but industrial upheaval intervened. In the event, there was no general strike, but by then the date of the census had been moved. You can read more about the historical background to the 1921 census here.

What questions were asked in the 1921 census?

Novelist Agatha Christie was recorded on the 1921 census as a visitor in a boarding house in Torquay

The 1921 census did not ask radically different questions to previous censuses. Details such as name, age, marital status, relationship to the head of the household, address and occupation were still required, but there were some new additions and important changes, including the removal of disability questions.

Ages were now required in years and months and ‘D’ for divorce was added as an option for marital status for the first time. Concern about the number of children who may have lost a father during the First World War, meant that a question was added for all children under 15, asking if both parents were alive or if they had lost one, or both.

Respondents were asked to name their employer as well as their occupation, opening up the possibility of finding employment records in archives.

Married men, widowers and widows were also asked to state how many living children under 15 they had, regardless of whether they were residing in the household on the night of the census.

Why can’t I find someone on the 1921 census?

When the 1921 census launched in January, there were issues with the quality of the transcription, making it difficult for many people to find their family. However, Findmypast are working hard to implement corrections. We have also put together a guide to using the census, including tips on how to flush out elusive ancestors.

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A number of schedules suffered water damage in the 1930s, although only 0.35 per cent of the collection was damaged so badly that it cannot be read. Apart from that, the collection is remarkably complete so if you cannot find an ancestor, it is worth considering mistranscription first. Other options may be that your ancestor was abroad at the time or gave false information. Military personnel, including RAF staff, based in overseas stations were included.