A major opportunity has arrived to find out more about your family in the early part of the 20th century. The most recent census that we are allowed to consult is the one taken in 1911; this is now joined by the 1939 Register.
In September 1939, just after the start of the Secord World War, the Government compiled a register of the population of England and Wales. This was needed to issue identity cards and ration books, coordinate conscription and plan evacuations. 41 million people were listed by household, with details that include name, address, date of birth, marital status and occupation.
The original documents have been digitised and indexed. They are available online at the FindMyPast website, which features a number of articles explaining the records available and how to make best use of them. You can search the index free of charge. Access to images of the original household returns, which contain more details than appear in the index, is on a "pay-per-view" basis. If you visit The National Archives in person, you can access these images too without having to pay.
To protect the privacy of people who are still living (or who may be still living), at present the details of only about 28 million individuals can be seen. Despite this, the project is a major boon to family historians. It will become increasingly useful as additional people are added to those whose details we can view.
FFHS Archives Liaison
2 November 2015