The 1921 Census of England & Wales, with its original household schedules, has been digitised by Findmypast and is available to view in full. The 1921 Census includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, plus all the British armed forces overseas.
You can now browse through the 1921 Census original household and institutional returns (archive series RG 15) to see how individual census returns fit within their neighbourhoods and to gain an overview of a place or an institution.
The information given on a 1921 Census schedule for a person varies according to, for example, their age and employment status. Typically, though, the 1921 Census records gives at least the following information about an individual:
Depending upon an individual's circumstances, the census return could also show other information such as:
The browse experience is intended as the equivalent of going to an archive in person, calling up a volume in the search room, and being able to page through it from cover to cover.
You can in fact approach browsing the main archival series of records from the 1921 Census – series RG 15 – in two different ways.
Firstly, if you search for a particular person or address, once you have landed on an image of the original page, you can then navigate either side of that image to see adjacent images within that piece, such as those for neighbours (if a household return) or other inmates (in an institution) or service personnel (in armed forces returns). To do this, you need to go to the main 1921 Census advanced person search or our Census Address Search page – see the Useful Links menu to the right-hand side of this page.
Alternatively, instead of using the usual search functionality, you can use the browse experience on this page and search for a particular piece that interests you. This requires some knowledge either of the archival geography of the census (in other words, the piece number, which you may have obtained from previous searches) or of the administrative geography of the census (in other words, the Registration District, Sub-district etc).
The Civil Parish or Place field values come from the archival catalogue metadata and often are not specific. Where a piece included all or part of two or more civil parishes, the government department creating the catalogue metadata did not name the parishes but described the piece as covering “part” of the district in which it was located. The Civil Parish field is therefore indicative only and should not be relied upon; it was not an integral part of the census administrative geography (which was based upon RD, SD and ED only).
For convenience of searching, we have added extra values to two fields:
In the County field, Army, Navy and RAF refer only to the Armed Forces Overseas, which is to be found in pieces RG 15/28107 to 28153 inclusive. There are many other armed forces returns for locations within England, Wales, Channel Islands and Isle of Man which will be found under the relevant county in which they were situated.
The 1921 Census of England & Wales is massive, because the original census schedules were retained for every household and institution. As a single piece (bound volume of schedules) may contain, say, 300 schedules, you will receive multiple search results for most places. For example, there are 78 pieces for the Registration District (RD) of Mile End Old Town in the East End of London, and 239 pieces for the RD of Kings Norton. You can narrow the scope by selecting the Registration Sub-district (SD) if you know it. For example, Kings Norton contains the five Sub-districts of Kings Norton, Balsall Heath, Edgbaston, Acock’s Green and Smethwick. Of course, some Registration Districts are smaller or less densely populated. For instance, there are only eight pieces for Helmsley RD in Yorkshire, and just three for all of Bala RD in Merionethshire.
Your browse search results will indicate the number of images within each piece, so you know in advance what is available.
Note that you can only browse within a single piece (bound volume). You cannot browse from one piece to the next; this is because each piece is stored within its own image folder in the underlying database. If you want to move on to another piece, you will need to close your first piece (put it back on the shelf, as it were) and select a new one.
Each piece within the 1921 Census of England & Wales has been imaged from cover to cover. So when browsing – paging through the volume – you will see almost everything. This includes:
The only items you will not see are:
The typical image sequencing for household schedule types is as described below. Note in this respect that the front of the schedule is the one containing the address panel and instructions on form-filling; a back is the main form into which householders entered details.
The counter-intuitive sequencing of pages in the double schedule type, such as EE, is due to the fact that they were printed on a single, very long piece of landscape paper folded in half down the middle to create four sides. By contrast, the longer household schedules, such as EEE, comprised three sheets of paper (each the same size as a regular single-page E schedule) stapled together.
These records conserved, imaged and published by Findmypast come from the original archive series RG 15 at The National Archives.
Please note that copyright applies as follows:
© Crown Copyright. Images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England.
The National Archives give no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education.
Applications for any other use should be made to:
The National Archives Image Library
Tel: +44 (0)20 3908 9131