Great fun with the 1939 register

For a given value of fun of course. The register of all the people in the country in 1939, the pre-war census thingammiebob.

So, looking up my name (Worstall, obviously, because it’s rare and easier to look up than mother’s maiden name) I see Great Aunt, Uncle, no idea who the bloke in Pewsey is, Grandmother and that’s it.

Father and Grandfather don’t seem to be on it. Which is a bit odd, as father’s address at the time was the same as Grandmother’s and Uncle’s (he wouldn’t have been away at school at that time, too young) and Grandfather was career RAF so they should have known where he was (at the same address I think….some airbase in the Cotswolds, Calne maybe? Although that’s Wiltshire I think. Summat like that anyway).

The other grandfather, mother etc don’t seem to be in there at all.

So, not hugely accurate I would say.

15 thoughts on “Great fun with the 1939 register”

  1. Anyone born less than 100 years ago is not on the electronic register. Their names will be released gradually as the birthdate passes 100 years ago. According to FindMyPast the number of “redacted” names amounts to about a third. I understand that you can appeal (I assume you prove they have died?)

  2. On top of that you will have possible transcription errors. The quality of the transcription is not known at this point.

    For example the quality of transcriptions of the UK electoral rolls is pretty poor with many badly transcribed lines and even whole lines missing. I have viewed this database on Ancestry but the same transcriptions will be used by competitors. I assume the electoral roll was done with OCR software because there is a complete failure to understand page layout. This is unlikely to occur with manually transcribed records.

    Worstall is a particularly bad name for OCR. Capital I and lower case l and number one are easily confused. Equally “ll” is frequently mistaken for H or N. “t” gets misread as R. “S” as “5”, “r” as “T”, “W” as “iN” or “LN” etc.

  3. My grandfather isn’t on it, he was born in 1915 and was still in England until about 1941. As TDK said it will probably update next year.

  4. TDK, I’ve been amused for years by how badly our letters and numbers work together. l is too like 1, b is too like 6; why did spelling nuts like GB Shaw not argue instead for better symbols for l and b?

  5. My grandfather, born 1878, is on it. The record says 2 other people ‘locked’, & 2 more ‘officially closed’. The ‘locked’ bit can be unlocked with cash. They are presumably my grandmother & my aunt (both deceased), whereas the ‘closed’ ones will be my uncle (deceased) & my father (alive, born 1920).

  6. I tried it and got an alleged 4515 people – just 14 of whom had actually had the specified name, including neither parent, my uncle but not his wife, none of my first cousins, three of whom were born before the war. 4501 people with a different surname …

  7. l is like 1
    No it isn’t
    Brit thing. Most continentals write 1 as ^
    But i is indistinguishable from I

  8. >bloke in spain

    I didn’t say lower case l is like a 1. I said OCR software misreads it. Different thing. Bundled with my scanner is some OCR software. Trust me it confuses l and 1. Type both characters into Word and change the Font to Times New Roman. Then get back to me.

    I assume different fonts make a difference and more importantly I assume industrial scale OCR software can be made more accurate, but even then you get wear in the cast metal sorts that make up the typeface, marks on paper and other quirks that work against accuracy.

  9. @TDK
    I use OCR. I’m regrettably only too well aware.

    The comment was for our Anglo-centric, privately educated,

  10. This is not actually like the official Census, it isn’t locked for a 100 years. I found my Gran (bn 1921) living with her Mum in Yorkshire. It said, in one of the articles (possibly Daily Mail) that a lot of the younger men had already enlisted so they wouldn’t be in there, nor would career soldiers, sailors etc, because, like the official census, it would only record those people actually living in the property at that particular time. As troops were on the move or even abroad it would have been impossible to include them. This was simply a head count of those still left at home, I think. A lot of smaller villages would only show women, children and the very old or infirm men. Hope this helps.

  11. I tried it and found my father there. There is also another locked entry, presumably my mother and another two who would be my elder sister and me. Slightly spooky.

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