skip to main content

1921 census

January 7, 202212:45 pmLeave a Comment

The 1921 census has now been released!    It available on and is a fantastic resource for family and social history as well as for tracing the history of your house.

Digitising the returns of over 8.5 million households and other public and private institutions was a huge task undertaken by FindMyPast and the National Archives.  Until the expense in digitising has been recouped, it will be available as pay-per-view only.  This means you won’t be able to access the 1921 census free of charge at the Shropshire Archives or libraries in Shropshire or Telford and Wrekin.

You can view images with a personal Find My Past subscription, which will allow you to see the images on a pay-per-view basis (£2.50 for each transcript and £3.50 for original images).

The census will be free to view online at the following locations only:

  • The National Archives in London
  • Manchester Central Library
  • The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

For full details see FindMyPast

What’s so different about the 1921 census?

1920s interior of house built for Sentinel Waggon Workers PH/S/13/S/20/4

The census was taken on 19 June 1921, delayed due to industrial unrest.  It reveals the devastating social impact of the First World War.  There were over 1.7 million more women than men in England and Wales, with the largest discrepancy between the ages of 20 and 45.  The census also includes a category showing whether the parents of children under fifteen had died; there were over 730,000 fatherless children at the time.

The employment category is interesting as it shows more women working.  The 1921 census also added a section to show where people were working (not just their occupation).

The economic and housing crisis is shown in overcrowding. My little two bedroomed house was home to a widow, her 19 and 21 year old daughters  and three male lodgers who were working on the railways.

It is the most detailed census so far. Other new details include ages recorded in years and months, rather than to the nearest year and an addition of divorced as a marital status.

Earlier census returns

The earliest census was 1801 although generally this was more of a head count than providing details on individuals.  Censuses were taken every ten years.  Shropshire is lucky to have a few detailed census returns for 1821 and 1831. You can search for these and view original images on our website – see our census blog posts for more information.

Census returns for St Chad’s 1821 P253/V/1/1/21

The first national census returns giving details of individuals was in 1841.  Census returns for 1841-1911 are available to search and view for free at Shropshire Archives via FindMyPast and Ancestry. You can book a PC in advance. Again previous blog posts give more information about the census returns.

Later census returns

Due to the amount of personal information, census returns aren’t released for 100 years.

Unfortunately the 1931 census was destroyed in a fire and the 1941 census was never captured due to the Second World War.  Therefore, the next available census (for 1951) won’t be released until 2052!

The 1939 register created for rationing purposes can help fill in some gaps and this is searchable on

Written by sarahd

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *