I would not normally share general press release statements here, but this one is an exciting development for those of us in the United Kingdom.
“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 www.1939register.co.uk.
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.”
(Disclaimer – I have received no financial reward or otherwise for sharing this information, I am merely a rather excited genealogist!)
I will be back in the next few days with some thoughts and potential discoveries that I hope to make in regard to my own family.