Earlier this month one of the most important sources of data for students of 20th century British history, and particularly for family historians, was made available online. Stored for the past 76 years in a government building in Stockport, the 1939 National Identity Card Register was taken in order to enable the government to issue identity cards and ration books, and also to aid conscription. Registration was compulsory and it is thought that only a few people slipped through the net of enumerators recording individual names, date of birth, address, gender, employment status, job and marital status on 29 September 1939.
The normal ‘100 year’ rule doesn’t apply because this wasn’t an official Census. Nevertheless you will not be able to view details of any person born within the past 100 years who is still alive. The 1939 register was maintained with details of those who died only until 1991. Therefore for anyone who was born less than 100 years ago and who died after 1991, you will not be able to view their details (although there will be a method of notifying Findmypast of their death, with suitable proof, so that their record can be opened for viewing).
It is free to search the 1939 register on the Findmypast website – with a charge to see an individual’s details plus local maps and demographic statistics from 1939. The maps are an essential part of the background information – because, during and after World War Two, literally thousands of urban streets disappeared and no longer exist.
The newly released survey is of additional importance because it is the only available national survey of England and Wales’ population between the census of 1921 and that of 1951. The 1931 census data was destroyed in a fire in 1941 – and the census operation scheduled for 1941 was cancelled due to the war. The government says it intends to release the 1921 census in 2022 ” in accordance with the non-statutory ‘100 year rule’ which was adopted to reflect this undertaking of confidentiality”. Despite numerous protestations and challenges, the government seems to be sticking firmly to this position.
Read more at The 1939 National Identity Card Register website at www.1939idcard.uk