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Newly digitized records of England and Wales in the 1939 Register have been made available online at Findmypast, in association with The UK National Archives.
Considering the high level of immigration between Ireland and England at the time and beforehand, thousands of Irish living in the UK feature in the collection too.
Dubbed "The Wartime Domesday Book", The 1939 Register is the most comprehensive survey of the population of England and Wales ever taken. In September 1939, World War II had just broken out and 65,000 enumerators were employed to visit every house in England and Wales to take stock of the civil population.
The information that they recorded was used to issue identity cards, plan mass evacuations, establish rationing and coordinate other war-time provisions. In the long term, the 1939 Register would go on to play a central role in the establishment of post-war services such as the National Health Service (NHS).
The 1931 British census was destroyed during the war and the 1941 census was never taken. The 1939 Register is therefore the only surviving record of the English and Welsh population between 1921 and 1951, bridging a 30-year gap in history.
Comprising 1.2 million pages in 7,000 volumes and documenting the lives of 41 million people, the 1939 Register opens a window to a world on the brink of cataclysmic change. Each record includes the names of inhabitants at each address, their date of birth, marital status and occupation.
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