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  2. Exploring family records
  3. The 1921 Census of England & Wales

Why do I have to pay to view the 1921 Census?

This eagerly anticipated release is the culmination of almost three years of highly skilled work to digitise the 1921 Census of England and Wales for online publication.  



Conserving, digitising, transcribing and building an experience that enables meaningful, accurate searches of these important records has required significant investment from Findmypast. Every page of the fragile physical documents had to be handled by a trained conservation technician who was responsible for a variety of delicate tasks, including removing any objects that could damage the paper, correcting folds covering the text, teasing apart pages that had become stuck together, restoring tears and checking for and repairing other damage.  


The online search functionality built by the Findmypast team is also better than ever before. The cost of creating digital images from the paper originals, transcribing those records, and building the infrastructure to present the images and data to the general public is beyond the resources of The National Archives alone. They therefore offer opportunities for private businesses – such as Findmypast - to work with them in widening access to the records they hold, by digitising them and offering online access.  


The digitisation of the 1921 Census is the largest project ever completed by The National Archives and Findmypast, consisting of more than 30,000 bound volumes of original documents stored on 1.6 linear kilometres of shelving. It is now searchable at a touch of a button from your home. Notwithstanding this, the 1921 Census will be free to access at The National Archives at Kew, at the Manchester Central Library, and at the National Library of Wales, in Aberystwyth, all via Findmypast. 

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