Sunday, 8 November 2015

FindmyPast restricts TNA ref numbers access on 1939 previews

What the left hand giveth...

This one is just bizarre. It seems that FindmyPast ( has apparently now restricted access to National Archives reference numbers on preview screens for its 1939 National Identity Register collection searches for England and Wales - but seemingly only on the British version of the site.

Until a short time ago, when carrying out a search, a list of search results would arrive allowing you to see a preview of an individual's specific entry. This preview screen popped up with a name, birth year, an idea of how many others may have been in the household, and the TNA reference number in which the record was held. This same reference number could then be used to identify to an extent which other members might be present in the house, and indeed, on the same street, which could help inform the user as to whether they had indeed found the right household.

Now when you do the search on the UK site, this is what you get:

Yet on the US version of the site, to which I subscribe, this is what you get:

Both the Australasian and Irish versions of the site are still also displaying the TNA reference numbers.

Quite why FindmyPast seems to be playing silly buggers on this is a mystery. But it may well be the case that the international versions of the site soon implement the same restrictions, so if you have searches to carry out, I would humbly suggest you do them sooner rather than later. If you have one of the international versions of the site open at the same time when you are using the UK site, you can cross reference any possible finds by carrying out the same search on the overseas site, and getting the relevant reference from there - you do not need to be registered or logged in to these overseas versions, the 1939 search will provide these basic preview details for free.

The overseas sites are as follows:

Why FindmyPast is doing this is beyond me - but one has to wonder in which chapter of the customer relations book that they seem to be using was this considered a good idea.

(With thanks to the Guild of One Named Studies and to Rosemary Morgan for raising this issue)

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Martin James for the following comment via Twitter (@heritagefamily). He has queried this directly with FMP, and received the following response on Twitter: "We're carrying out some work on this section of the search, it will be back as soon as possible".

12 NOV 2015: This post has been subsequently amended to remove further updates - see It should also be noted that the information is now restricted on all FMP sites.


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  1. I am only surprised that you're surprised. The 1939 Register is deja vu all over again, with FMP releasing a half-finished product. There are dead people who are supposedly alive and are therefore redacted, there are alive people under 100 who should be redacted and they won't do it unless you can provide a driving licence or passport, there are numerous transcription errors and transpositions, and they are still claiming 98.5% accuracy.

  2. This morning the TNA ref issue was even more bizarre. With Firefox on the UK site you got a name and x other people, and no TNA ref, but with IE you got a name, and a second name, and x other people, and no TNA ref.

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  5. The TNA Reference has now been removed from the site. Findmypast are clearly reneging on their statement on Saturday "it'll be back as soon as possible". You may be interested in our latest blog at questioning Findmypast's claim that the 1939 Register is "the richest and most comprehensive record set ever"

  6. I'm sorry to say, Chris, that you were right. The TNA reference numbers have now been withdrawn from the search Preview pages of the 1939 Register on all of the FindMyPast websites (including the US, Australia and Ireland). Although some people are reporting seeing other members of the household in those pages instead (which would be good), I am not seeing them on my system (MacOS + Chrome). Very disappointed indeed!