Queen’s University Belfast awarded contract to transcribe 1921 Scottish census

The census is due to be released in the latter half of 2022

Queen's University Belfast
PETER MUHLY/AFP via Getty Images
Published: February 10, 2022 at 12:44 pm
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Queen’s University Belfast has been awarded the contract to transcribe the 1921 Scottish census.


An announcement published on 25 January on the website Bidstats says that the National Records of Scotland (NRS) has awarded a £438,366 contract for ‘Creation of Transcriptions (Electronic Indexes) of the Historic 1921 Scotland’s Census Handwritten Records’ to Queen’s University.

The contract includes the option for two six month extensions at the discretion of the purchaser. It also specifies that the accuracy level of the data transcribed must be at least 98%.

Under privacy laws, the 1921 census cannot be released to the public until at least 100 years have passed.

The 1921 census for England and Wales was published on commercial family history website Findmypast on 6 January. However, there were complaints from some family historians about the accuracy of the record transcriptions.

There is no 1921 census for modern-day Northern Ireland as Ireland was caught up in the Irish War of Independence at the time.

The 1921 census for Scotland was originally due to be published on Scottish records website ScotlandsPeople in summer 2021.

However, ScotlandsPeople then announced that the release had been delayed until “the latter half of 2022”, although a recent response to a request for further information has offered a more optimistic "as early as possible in the second half of 2022".

The records were digitised at the same time as the 1911 census and images will initially be released to the public with a partial transcription that will provide an index for finding individual records. The NRS then plans for a full transcription of all the fields before the end of the year. "The full transcription will allow us to provide a historical statistical dataset to social researchers and allow us to explore ways to enhance the online indexes," a spokesperson told Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.

Chris Paton, Scottish genealogy expert and author of the Scottish family history blog Scottish Genes, said: "The lack of information coming from the NRS on its plans to release the delayed 1921 census has been incredibly frustrating. Nevertheless, this contract award is at least confirmation that things are finally moving, and it is to be hoped that the archive's stated aim to release the census in the 'latter half of 2022' will be realised on the timetable it has announced."


Rosemary Collins is the features editor of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine


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