Thursday, 27 March 2014

FindmyPast to digitise English/Welsh 1939 Register

New from FindmyPast ( about the English and Welsh 1939 National Identity Register:


· Most anticipated family history project since the 1911 census
· Only complete overview of the population between 1922 and 1950 will open up the past

British-owned online family history world leader DC Thomson Family History (who own findmypast) and The National Archives have today announced a joint project to make records of 40 million civilians held in the 1939 register available online. Once digitised, it is estimated that the collection will comprise almost 1.2 million scanned full-colour images of documents covering the entire civilian population of England & Wales at the outbreak of WWII.

The 1939 register was taken on 29 September 1939 by the British Government and recorded personal details of individuals in order to issue identity cards and ration books. It later formed the basis of the National Health Service’s records. When complete, the 1939 register will be fully searchable online for the first time, opening up the past to a new generation of family and social historians, just as the 1911 census did on its release in 2009.

The records contain the address, full name, date of birth, sex, marital status and occupation of individuals, as well as changes of name. Although the Register is literally within living memory for many people, information about living individuals will be kept closed for 100 years from their year of birth, or until proof of death has been authenticated.

From today, anybody interested in being kept informed about the project can register at

Annelies Van Den Belt, CEO of DC Thomson Family History said: “This announcement is great news not just for British family historians and those with British relatives, but for anyone with an interest in history itself; providing a fascinating snapshot of the country as it stood on the edge of the most widespread conflict in human history.

“This significant project will bring these records to a global audience for the first time, and combined with the 1.8 billion records already available on our websites will make it easier than ever to begin your family history journey and uncover the powerful stories that lie within and that make us who we are.”

Mary Gledhill, Commercial Director, at The National Archives, added: “The National Archives is delighted to be working with DC Thomson Family History to open up this unique record collection to the world, allowing history enthusiasts to discover more about the people at the outbreak of the Second World War. In the absence of a 1931 and 1941 census, this collection is all the more valuable to family historians trying to trace their ancestors.”

The 1939 register project is the latest contract to be awarded to DC Thomson Family History by The National Archives. Record sets previously digitised by the company in association with The National Archives include Crime, Prisons and Punishment; outbound passenger lists; British Army Service records; Merchant Navy Seamen’s records; Maritime Birth, Marriage and Death indexes and the 1911 census.

(With thanks to Alex Cox)


Time to find your inner Irish...! All the best online Irish genealogy resources can be found through my book Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet - in print and ebook formats. "Very useful, makes me wish I was Irish!" - Saint Patrick, patron saint.


  1. Will the digitised register include all the record amendments plus additions that presumably were made between 1939 to 1952?

  2. Chris, I followed you advice as I think this is a very important question. I posted the question in the comments on the FInd My Past website and got the following response yesterday (after 12.00 so not an April Fool!) from Myko at Findmypast:

    'Yes it will!'

    As the next comment in the posts on the Find My Past article says it makes you wonder why different rules are being applied to the 1921 Census and over military records of those born over a hundred years ago (they are still getting round to releasing the records of soldiers born before 1895 and serving after WW1).

    Anyway great news, a resource to be released that includes really useful genealogical information up to the early 1950s!