Secrets of 1921 to be revealed this Thursday

  • Date

    Tue 4 Jan 22

portrait photo of Professor Pamela Cox

University of Essex sociologist and historian Professor Pamela Cox is eagerly awaiting the release of Census records on Thursday 6 January.

This Thursday, the UK National Archives releases – for the first time – the detailed records of the 1921 Census. Anyone with an internet connection will be able to look up the history of their family, their house and their town.

The 1921 Census was the first to record people’s employment details. It was also the first to recognise divorce. On Thursday, we’ll find out who was living where – and who they were living with.

Professor Cox is one of those looking forward to the big reveal. She has made TV programmes about the histories of servants and shopgirls and says the 1921 Census will offer a fascinating snapshot of a changing country.

“Although people talk about the ‘roaring twenties’, life was tough for most people in Britain” says Professor Cox.

“The return of the men from the First World War pushed up unemployment. But at the same time, many people experienced new freedoms. They moved to the towns and cities and lived lives that their parents and grandparents could not have imagined. The jobs they did, the houses they lived in, the things they did in their spare time all changed.

“Families were getting smaller, and children stayed in school longer. While the aristocracy enjoyed Downton Abbey-style country estates, working families filled overcrowded Victorian terraces.”

Summary information from the 1921 Census has been available for some time but detailed records from every census are kept secret for a century.

The Census will also tell us who lived in Colchester’s first council houses in Defoe Crescent – completed in February 1921.

The 1921 Census is being released at 00:01 on Thursday 6 January. The records can be accessed on the National Archives associated website Find My Past.