Using the #1939Register #familyhistory

The obvious place to start when researching previous generations of your family is the Census. Unfortunately, the UK’s 1931 Census was destroyed by fire during World War Two, and no Census was taken in 1941. But in 1938 the British Government announced a National Register would be taken to assess war needs and to issue identity cards. The records of 41 million citizens were taken. These records are now available at Find My Past.

The 1939 register

The 1939 register [photo: Find My Past]

The information gathered in the 1939 Register was not only used for war planning but was also used after the war in the founding of the National Health Service. Forms were issued to 41 million people. Enumerators visited every household in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to collect the names, addresses, marital statuses and other key details of every civilian in the country. Identity cards were issued on the spot. It was a legal requirement to carry an identity card from this time until 1952.

If the person you are searching for is not listed in the Register, it is likely they were already serving in the military. You can search military records at the National Archives which has a number of research guides about finding members of the Armed Forces.

This post was inspired by Laura Berry’s article ‘Missing from the Census’ in the April 2016 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Was your relative a VAD nurse in the Great War?
Where to start your #familyhistory search
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ 

Sandra Danby


I used the 1939 Register when I was writing Sweet Joy, the third adventure in the ‘Identity Detective’ series. Watch the book trailer.

Start reading the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity.

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”
When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked? #secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
How to search for records using the 1939 Register #familyhistory via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

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