Release of the 1921 Census

Collections - Posted 14-02-2022

It is an exciting time for family historians with the recent release of the 1921 Census for England and Wales by Findmypast. This is the most detailed census so far and the last one to be released until 2052 due to the 1931 census being lost to fire and no census taken in 1941 due to the Second World War. It gives a snapshot of life at the beginning of the 1920’s soon after the end of the First World War and the Spanish flu pandemic and at the time of miner’s strikes. The threat of strikes led to the Government moving the census from 24 April to 19 June.

With the change of the date to June, this meant that many would not be found at home at the time of the census, but on holiday where they would be enumerated. Some holiday destinations saw an increase in the population compared with the 1911 census. This was the case in Aberystwyth where the population rose from 21,482 in 1911 to 23,508 in 1921. Our very own Librarian, Sir John Ballinger and his wife were on holiday at Llandrindod Wells at the time.


© Crown Copyright reproduced by permission of The National Archives, London and Findmypast


What information can be found on the form? In order to entice people to give more accurate ages this was asked in years and months for the first time. Those under 15 years were also asked if both parents were alive if not to note whether the father or mother had died or both.

Under ‘Birthplace and Nationality’ parish and county of birth were still asked, but if born outside of the UK to note whether a visitor or resident and which nationality. This is the first time information regarding education was collected, asking whether in full time or part time education.

The information regarding the number of children within a family was collected differently this time, not asking how long the wife had been married, but asking for the number and ages of children and step-children under 15 years, whether residing in the same property or not.

And of course the last column in Wales refers to the language spoken whether Welsh, English or Both. Many households have returned the Welsh language schedules but many of the English versions do list households that spoke both English and Welsh.

Free access to the 1921 census is available within the National Library of Wales building as one of the three designated regional hubs offering free access, otherwise you can pay to access through the Findmypast website. You will need to register for a reader’s ticket to gain access.

Beryl Evans
Research Services Manager

This blog is also available in Welsh.

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