Sunday, January 10, 2010

Access to the Scottish National Identity Register, 1939

Family historians have been given access for the first time to information from the National Identity Register drawn up at the outbreak of the Second World War.

In 1939, the National Registration Act ordered a register of everybody living in the UK - for the purpose of issuing identity cards, ration books and call-up papers.
The register was compiled by the Registrar General of the time, James Kyd, and his successor still preserves the original register.
It records personal information of great interest to family historians - name, address in 1939, marital status, age and occupation.

Up till now the register has been kept secret because the 1939 Act prohibited publication of the information but thanks to an application under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, that restriction has been reviewed and details about people who have since died are now being made available.

Welcoming the new release of information, Jim Mather MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism in the Scottish Government said:-

"Scotland has an unrivalled reputation for making information available to family historians. This release of information from the 1939 register will give a starting point for people who do not have a record of their recent family history. It is a good example of the way that the Scottish freedom of information legislation is unlocking records which have up to now been secret."

So how do you make an application? Simple - send a request to the following address:

Extract Services
General Register Office for Scotland
New Register House
3 West Register Street

You will need to enclose a fee of £13 (cheque payable to the General Register Office of Scotland) and evidence of the death of the person who is the subject of the enquiry. For those who have died in Britain, a simple date of death will suffice as the GROS can easily corroborate that from its records, but if it is for a Scot who has died overseas,
you should enclose proof of death from overseas. In return, an official extract from the register with the GROS seal will be despatched, including all the details on that individual as recorded in 1939.

It should be noted that this was not an official census, but a register drawn up for the purpose of issuing identity cards. Therefore a record supplied by the GROS will not show a household, just information for the individual in question.

It's thought that the following details will likely be on the extracts - address, surname and other names, male or female, birth (day, month and year), whether the person was single, married, widowed or divorced, personal occupation.

Some of this came from Scottish Genealogy News and Events' excellent blog, where there is more information, and a mocked up sample certificate.
The blog author, Chris Paton, says he will be posting an update in due course, so keep an eye on his blog.

To comment on this article, please click the 'comments' link below. 

1 comment:

Scottish Family History said...

I think this is great news especially as from what I have read the occupation will show if the individual served in the military thus opening another door of research to be followed.

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