Christmas: A Tale of Two Censuses

A Once in a Lifetime Records Opportunity: Scanning the 1921 Census of England and Wales

A new type of Christmas list is coming to town!

Regardless of how you celebrate the holidays, did it ever occur to you that the very first Christmas was driven by a records manager and a census (with a little divine inspiration)?

While census records have changed a lot in the centuries since the birth of Jesus, the information is still critical and its absence can be devastating.

Case in point: the 1921 England and Wales census. After the 1931 UK census was destroyed in a fire and the 1941 census was cancelled due to World War II, the 1921 records became the last census remaining before a twenty-year gap in the documents.

Thanks to a recent multi-year effort by FindMyPast, in association with the UK National Archives, the original 1921 England and Wales census documents have been preserved and scanned for widespread online access. To further assert the value of this digitization effort, current privacy laws dictate that the next UK census – taken in 1951 – cannot be released to the public until 2052; making the release of the 1921 census perhaps the majority of our older generation’s only chance to access critical genealogy records in their lifetime.

Conservation, Preservation and Digitization

Because this information is rare and valuable, the process for online access was done with great consideration. Taking three years to complete, the project included conservation and preservation of the original records. The documents were then digitized using InoTec 400-series document scanners, sold by The Crowley Company and supported by our UK partner Genus.

While I could go on about the effort, FindMyPast has created two videos which give excellent insight into the detailed process taken to prepare these 100-year-old paper records into their digital life.

“How Find My Past Digitised the 1921 Census”

InoTec 400-series scanners can be seen at the two-minute mark.

“The 1921 Census is Coming”

InoTec 400-series scanners can be seen at the one-minute mark.

The gift of knowing one’s ancestry should never be taken for granted. The Crowley Company is honored to have played a small part in bringing these records to the public and applaud the efforts of all that contributed to this enormous project.

As always, we remain grateful for all those that preserve important records across the world. We wish you all a happy holiday season!

Digitizing Important Records

Crowley’s specialized hardware selection and knowledgeable imaging experts can support your digitization efforts for any records type from any still media. Call (240) 215-0224 for more information on scanning hardware or to speak with a member of our team.

Hannah Clawson, Crowley's former Communications Coordinator, cultivated a profound passion for historic preservation and held a deep appreciation for the company's clients and their invaluable contributions. You may still likely find her exploring local coffee shops, writing about her favorite bands, or enjoying a local rock show.


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