When will the 1921 census be released in Scotland?

When will the 1921 census for Scotland be released, where will it be available and why is it important?

1921 census Scotland
Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Published: September 13, 2022 at 10:27 am
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When will the 1921 census be released in Scotland?

The National Records of Scotland has said that it plans to release indexed images of the 1921 Scottish census towards the end of 2022 via the pay-per-view ScotlandsPeople website. Under privacy laws, census records can only be released to the public after 100 years have passed.

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The 1921 census of England, Wales and Scotland was conducted on 19 June 1921. (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 census records for Scotland are held separately to those of England and Wales. ScotlandsPeople, the official website of the National Records of Scotland, originally announced that they would release the census records in summer 2021. However, on 18 June 2021 they announced that the release had been postponed to “the latter half of 2022”.

The contract to transcribe the 1921 census for Scotland was not awarded until 25 January 2022, when it was awarded to Queen’s University Belfast. The contract, which is worth £438,366, includes the option for two six month extensions at the discretion of the purchaser.

On 31 August 2022, following a blog post from Scottish family historian Chris Paton saying that ScotlandsPeople had not communicated about the release date for the 1921 census, ScotlandsPeople confirmed that the census is still due to be released in 2022. However, they have not set a release date.

What is the 1921 census?

The 1921 census is a complete survey of the population of England, Wales and Scotland at the time. A full census of the population had been carried out every ten years since 1841. The 1921 census is particularly important because the 1931 census records were destroyed in the Blitz and the 1941 census was not carried out due to the Second World War (although the 1939 Register is available as a substitute), meaning there will be no more census releases until the 1951 census is released in 2051. The 1921 census records show the impact of the First World War and the Spanish flu pandemic on the population. As well as recording each individual’s name, address and profession, they are more detailed than any previous census records. For the first time, entrants were required to put their age in years and months, not just years, and were asked the name of their employer and their place of work. Records for children state whether the child had both parents alive, one parent alive or both parents dead, and records for adults provide the opportunity to state whether they’re divorced as well as single, married or widowed.

When was the 1921 census for England and Wales released?

The 1921 census for England and Wales is available on Findmypast
The 1921 census for England and Wales is available on Findmypast

The 1921 census for England and Wales was released on 6 January 2022. Unlike the 1921 census for Scotland, the records were transcribed and published by commercial family history website Findmypast. They are available to view at a cost of £2.50 for every record transcript and £3.50 for every individual image, with a 10% discount for Findmypast’s Pro subscribers. Following the release, the records were criticised for inaccuracies in the transcriptions, which Findmypast has now promised to fix. The 1921 census for Scotland will be released on ScotlandsPeople, a government-run website which allows users to purchase credits to view family history records.

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

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