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The 1921 census: We are pleased to have teamed up with Family Tree Magazine, who have offered their insights and search tips for the1921 census. January has been a busy month so far, for genealogists keen to begin investigating clues in the 1921 Census. Read on for some search tips to help you get started and search smarter.


But first, surnames!


Don’t forget you can always search for your surname in the box at the top of this page, and order the history of your name and its earliest coat of arms here. The 1921 Census gives details, for people born outside the UK, or birth place and nationality. Many people were on the move in the post First World War world, and immigrants from Russia, Poland and France are particularly numerous on the 1921 Census. Those from Germany and Italy arrived in notable numbers too. Do you have a surname which may have originated from these places? Now, how to start searching


How to do a basic search of the 1921 Census

You’ll be pleased to learn that you do not need a subscription to Findmypast in order to use the 1921 Census on Findmypast. Also, you do not need to take out a 14 day free trial. You simply need to register with Findmypast, and then you can start searching. And you don’t need to pay until you find something of interest.




Search the 1921 Census



Note that when searching you are entering the year of birth, but the ‘Where’ field is not for place of birth. The ‘Where’ field is for you to enter the place in which you expect the person to be in 1921.



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21 census – detailed facts help your search




The search results give a detailed combination of facts to help you determine whether the entry is correct. Then, you might decide to buy a full transcription or the digitised image of the original page. This is an example of the search results below.

The details include: first name(s), last name, birth year and place of birth. Plus the name of the parish, registration district and county where the person was living in 1921.


How to do an advanced search of the 1921 Census


The advanced search provides numerous fields that you may use to narrow down your search results. For instance, just adding an occupation can narrow down the list of possible search results to a much more manageable number. Equally, do you know that your person was single, married or widowed at the time? Be sure to apply the filter for their marital status. Simple things such as this can help you hone in on your person in the 1921 census.

Once you have found a search result of interest, to find out more, payment for the transcription or digitised image is required.


What can you see once you’ve paid


The prices are £2.50 to purchase the transcription and £3.50 for the digitised image. (Pro subscribers to Findmypast receive a 10% discount on these prices; regular subscribers receive no discount).


Make sure you’ve got all that you’ve paid for


In addition to the household image, the £3.50 fee includes the front of the census form (on which you’ll find the address). And it also includes the cover of the form (on which you will find the series and piece number). Plus, there are contemporary maps, details and plans of division. These comprise details similar to the enumerator’s description in earlier census returns. To find the image of the front and the image of the cover, whilst looking at the household image page click on ‘Extra (Address)’. This is found near the bottom right-hand corner of the window. Note: The address is found on the image of the front of the form, not on the household image page. (Which we are used to expect from the 1911 Census of England and Wales for instance).


How to do an address search on the 1921 census



Address search on the 1921 census

Address search on the 1921 census



From the basic search, select the green tab to search by address. Then, enter the street name and location. From the list of search results, select a street and click through to reveal a list of house names or house numbers. This can be a useful way of determining how many households were living at an address. To find out more, payment for a transcription or image is required.

Note that the addresses may search for in the 1921 Census of England and Wales include institutions, ships and places in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.


How to use RD codes to help identify a place


For instance, you can use the Registration District and Sub-District code to work out a county name if this has not been included on your set of household census images. Find a list of Registration District and Sub-District codes here.


How to search the 1921 census by an occupation

Search by the occupation that you think your ancestor may have had. Use the occupation codes to help determine the sector they may have worked in. Explore the list of coded occupations for other roles in their sector which may be useful to learn about. You may of course have a specialist interest in a certain occupation, and again an exploration of the occupations and their codes may help in this respect.

  • Occupation codes (in green) can be found here.



How to view some transcribed details in the 1921 census without paying for a transcription


From your list of search results hover over the transcript icon. The first names of two other people in the household are displayed, in addition to the name you have searched on. You can repeat your search using these two other names in turn (adding in their age, marital status, birth place etc if you know it). In this way you will gradually piece together a fuller list of the first names of the other people in the house. This will help you determine whether this is your family, and if so whether you wish to buy the full transcription or image.

Remember too that when you buy a census image that transcribed hover text is available to view too.

With a transcription purchase you get transcribed details for everyone in the household. Plus, you also get additional details for the subject of your search.

How to learn more about the 1921 Census

A Vision of Britain provides access to the General Report of the 1921 Census for England and Wales, with key topics and tables usefully bookmarked.


How to add to your family research


We are grateful to Helen Tovey, Editor of Family Tree Magazine for providing these expert tips for searching the 1921 census. If you are looking for a gift for a family historian, we have just the gift! Check out our full range of surname gifts or to find out about your surname and its related coat of arms or our genealogy alphabet, an alphabet for family research.


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