What to expect from the 1921 census
Today the National Records of Scotland broke radio silence on the much-delayed publication of the 1921 census. I won't go into the details of the sorry saga surrounding the release of these records - suffice to say this has not been the NRS' finest hour. Indexing is about 60% complete. The contract was signed in January, and the NRS are now saying they are "confident" they will publish before the end of the year, whereas a few months ago they were saying they "will" publish in the second half of this year, it seems likely we'll have to wait a few months yet before we can finally see the first census after World War One.
It seems opportune therefore to set out what to expect when the census is eventually released. From the first census in 1801, the amount of information gathered increased regularly, making the census returns more useful for historians and genealogists alike. The 1921 census continued that process, including more information than its 1911 counterpart.
The individual household schedules are not being published - instead, what we will see are the enumeration books. It's important to understand the difference - the household schedules were filled in by the residents, usually by the head of household. The enumeration books are transcriptions of those schedules carried out by enumerators - individuals employed by the census office. So unlike the English equivalent, you won't be able to see your ancestors' handwriting.
The other change in terms of what the NRS are producing, is that once the indexing has been completed and the images published on Scotland's People, a complete transcription of all the fields will be produced as part of the contract. This is something academic historians have long been pushing for, as it makes all sorts of historical research possible in a way that isn't feasible with indexed images alone. As yet, though, it's not clear if this transcription will be made publicly available when it is eventually complete.
Genealogy and Family History - A mix of our news, curious and intriguing discoveries. Research hints and resources to grow your family tree in Scotland from our team.