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  2. Exploring family records
  3. Coming soon: 1921 Census of England & Wales

How big is the 1921 census?

The 1921 census occupies 1.6 linear kilometres of shelving, holding details of just under 38 million people living in England & Wales in June 1921. The increase in population since 1911 was approximately 1.8 million, showing the impact of the First World War as this was only half the increase from 1901 to 1911, and proportionally the lowest increase recorded since the first census in 1801.

It comprises two sets of records:

Approximately 8.5 million householder questionnaires – or schedules (RG 15) held in 28,152 volumes, each comprising about 300 schedules. Each schedule is completed by each householder, and is in the householder’s writing (some appear to have been completed by other members of the family). 1,992 volumes of Plans of Division (RG 114).Each Plan of Division is a standard 32 page booklet in which local registrars recorded how their registration subdistrict would be divided up into enumeration districts for the census. In urban areas they list which streets are in which enumeration districts, and even which particular range of house numbers from a street fall into a given enumeration district. In rural areas it will indicate which hamlets and outlying farms were included in a particular enumeration district. Enumeration districts were designed so as possible such that a single enumerator could visit all the properties on census day to collect the schedules after completion.

The newly digitised version of the census will:

  • Enable people to easily search the census records online from the comfort of their own home
  • Take up 200 terabytes of computer storage using our preferred image format of JPEG2000, to store these images as TIFF files would take around 1.4 petabytes of storage.
  • Constitute more than 20 million colour images - a 25 per cent increase on the 1911 census.

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