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    Feb 14, 2010
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      The 1939 National Identity Card database

      Guild members researching in England and Wales will by now be familiar with the 1911 Census, most of which was released earlier than its scheduled date of 2012 (although not in Scotland where it is due for release in 2011). The 1921 Census is due for release in 2022; the 1931 Census was totally lost to fire in 1942; the 1941 census didn't happen at all because of the War. There is thus a large gap in census information for recent history, around the early-to-middle twentieth century.

      A potential partial substitute is the 1939 National Identity Card survey, undertaken at the outbreak of the Second World War and taking place on National Registration Day, Friday September 29th 1939. The details collected for each person included their name, sex, date of birth, marital condition, occupation, and whether a member of the armed forces or reserves. The 1939 Identity Card database formed the basis of the NHS Central Register when the NHS was set up in 1948.

      This collection of data has remained secret, under the terms of the original National Identity Card Act, until very recently. At the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, challenges via the Freedom of Information Act have resulted in a relaxation of this secrecy and the announcement of a formal service allowing the release of data for individuals who have died and are recorded as deceased.

      For England and Wales, the service is handled by the NHS Information Centre - see http://www.ic.nhs.uk/news-and-events/news/nhs-ic-launches-the-1939-register-service. This website provides a link to the request form which has to be printed down and signed - and accompanied by a cheque for £42.00 as a search fee - and sent to the NHS IC address at Southport.

      For Scotland, the service is administered by the General Register Office for Scotland, and the fee is much less, at £13.00 per request.


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