The next big thing?

The recent announcement that Findmypast and The National Archives http://www.findmypast.co.uk/1939register
are making available the National Registration Act 1939 ‘census’ is very exciting.  This Act led to the population of Britain being issued with identity cards as the second World War got underway. A little bird tells us that we could see some of it happen before the end of 2015, and make no mistake, it is going to be huge. There are 40 million entries and 7,000 volumes to digitize. Many 20th century research brickwalls will come tumbling down as a result.

As there was no census in 1941 due to the war, and the 1931 England & Wales census returns were sadly lost to fire, the 1939 Registration Act census will be the most recent year genealogists will be able to combine information from both census and civil registration in order to locate people for a long time to come. The 1921 UK census will be released in 2022 after 100 years as has been the normal practice, (another 7 years to wait) but then there might be no major record sets from the 20th century until the 1951 census is made available in 2052, unless (possibly, maybe) we get access to searchable civil registration certificates online. The 1939 data is being released earlier than 100 years as the legislation which brought it into being is different from that used to carry out the normal 10 year census, regulated by the 1920 Census Act.

We have all seen how quickly the big data websites have rushed to provide us online access to all the available England & Wales census returns, the surviving Ireland census returns, as well as transcriptions from the Scottish census. Many other records, most of them partial or parts of bigger series, have come online as well. But which types of records are going to keep the big data websites growing over the coming decades do you think?

What would provide the biggest break-through for your own research? Should there be a concerted effort to get all remaining parish registers indexed? How about all English probate material pre 1858 in one place? Military muster rolls?

What will be the next big thing?

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5 Responses to The next big thing?

  1. kewforage says:

    I suspect the liberalisation of access to the GRO records will be the next big thing, as more and more people use the certificates both for family history and demography.

  2. Gail Roger says:

    The Next Big Thing? I, alas, am but a lowly amateur family researcher so I tend to lack prescience in these matters, only discovering how mind-boggling usefulness of a given set of records by getting in and using it. For example, I recently made huge inroads in a branch of my husband’s family by finding two apprenticeship records (just released on FindMyPast) which lead to a confirmation which I’d been resisting for years!
    Furthermore, these two records were *not* the three apprenticeship records – one in Derbyshire, one in London, and one in the Medway area – after which I’ve been hankering! So I would like more apprenticeship records, please!

    Ooooh! and more newspapers online, like, say, The Somerset Standard? And while we’re at it, could Scotland’s People offer subscriptions and not the hobbling pay-for-view set-up?

    None of these are big things, but the big family breakthroughs come from scores of tiny discoveries, don’t they? However, I agree, the 1939 registration could be pretty darn huge, and if they ever offer a quick and cheap online alternative to the GRO . . . I may never see my actual living family again!

  3. Alex Daw says:

    This is great news. I know that my grandfather’s identity card from WW2 gave me some great information about his whereabouts during that time. I’m not sure what will be the next big thing….

  4. pharostutors says:

    How about all the surviving Assize records? That would be a project and a half!

  5. hjl says:

    More parish record images are what I yearn to see, especially living 10,000 miles away from relevant record offices. After the censuses run out, I really rely on them.

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