The 1921 Census Is Online Now

In a partnership with The National Archives, the 1921 Census of England & Wales is now exclusively online at Findmypast

After 100 years locked away, the highly-anticipated 1921 Census of England & Wales is now online and accessible for the very first time. There is no end to the secrets and surprises hidden in the Census and now there is no limit to the access you can enjoy. All you need to do is upgrade or subscribe to a Premium subscription. 

It’s taken three years of intensive conservation and digitization work with the help and support of the Office for National Statistics to make the Census available to search and explore online, only at Findmypast.

Taken on June 19, 1921, after being delayed by two months due to industrial unrest, the 1921 Census saw over 38,000 enumerators dispatched to every corner of England and Wales to capture the details of 38 million people. This included over 8.5 million households as well as all manner of public and private institutions ranging from prisons and military bases to public schools and workhouses.

Offering more detail than any previous census, the 1921 Census of England & Wales not only asked individuals their age, birthplace, occupation and residence (including the names of other household members and the number of rooms), but also their place of work, employer details, and gave ‘divorced’ as an option for marital status.

Now accessible for the first time, these valuable documents provide you with millions of unique opportunities to uncover the lives of your ancestors, the history of your home, and communities and a fascinating snapshot of life during an era that resonates with where we find ourselves today.

Falling between the two world wars, the records paint a desperate picture of England and Wales. From the Royal household to the average working-class citizen, everyone in the country at the time is accounted for. At the time, the nation was still reeling from the impact of the First World War, a major housing crisis and the Spanish flu pandemic, as well as bearing the brunt of a ravaged economy and industrial turmoil.

The publication of these documents marks the last significant census release for England and Wales in many of our lifetimes as the 1931 Census was destroyed in a fire and the 1941 Census was never captured due to the Second World War. The next census will not be available until 2052.

Snapshot of a Nation

The 1921 Census reveals the rapid social and cultural change the country was undergoing, with the changing role of women and the impact of World War 1 proving particularly apparent.

Owing to the vast number of men who fell in the war, the Census reveals there were 1,096 women for every 1,000 men recorded, with this discrepancy being the biggest for those aged between 20 and 45. This means there were over 1.7 million more women than men in England and Wales, the largest difference ever seen in a census.

Over 16,000 people recorded their marital status as the newly-added ‘divorced’ but this time the figure is likely to be much higher due to the stigma surrounding divorce at the time.

There was a 35% increase in the number of people recorded in hospitals from the 1911 Census, three-quarter of whom were men. Presumably many were still suffering from wounds received in the war.

Thanks to the additional information recorded on the status of parents and children, the Census also reveals the devastating impact the war had on families with over 730,000 fatherless children being recorded versus 261,000 without a mother.

As a result of the number of men killed or left permanently disabled, the 1921 Census also saw more women stepping into employment, with an increase in the number of women working as engineers, vets, barristers, architects and solicitors. 

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