Friday, 16 December 2016

A whole lot more about Britain in 1939 has just been revealed ......... new releases from the 1939 Register

Now if you are tracking anyone in the early part of the 20th century you will know that there are pitfalls.

Uncle Roger and mum, 1938
Not least because details from the 1921 census will not be released for another five years, the 1931 census was destroyed in an air raid and there was no census taken in 1941.

All of which makes the 1939 Register pretty important.

It was compiled in late September of that year as part of the country’s response to the outbreak of the war.

The Government had taken the decision a year earlier to compile a National Register that in the event of war would list l the personal details of every civilian in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mum and friend, 1942
The information was used to issue identity cards, organise rationing and  after the war for the National Health Service.

And for anyone looking for an individual or family member from the period the 1939 Register bridges the gap between the 1911 census and the list ones of the middle decades of the century,

But like all such sensitive information the details were subject to concerns over data protection and so when findmypast digitalised the records two years ago they chose to withhold some of the records.

This amounted to about 13 million or 32% of the total list of names, with details of people born less than a century ago and not known to have died before 1991.

The new records went live on November 16.

All of which meant when I went looking for my mum and grandparents I hit a brick wall.

They were there but mum’s entry had been redacted, which is that posh word for blanked out.

Mum, 1949
But now findmypast has matched millions of closed entries to other sources such as death records and has been able confirm that another three million records can now be shown.

And amongst those are mum’s.  In the September of 1939 she was at home and gave her occupation as
Unemployed cashier.  Not much perhaps but helps fill in a bit more of the story.

I know that on leaving school she had worked in a silk factory but had been “let go” when her apprenticeship ended and by 1942 she was in the RAF.  So it is a bit more.

And for that I am pleased.

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*The 1939 Register, findmypast,

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