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Anyone else feeling ripped off by 1921 census?

(41 Posts)
Sarnia Sat 22-Jan-22 13:29:05

I understand that I need to pay to look at the originals or transcripts for the 1921 census but it is either a rip-off or the process wasn't thought out very well. I have spent a few hours this morning looking up maternal ancestors. After filling in their details I got a list of results. I think it would be fairer if I was able to click on the transcript, without the opportunity to print, just to check it is the right person before having to pay either £3.50 for the original or £2.50 for the transcript only to find out it isn't my ancestor. These costs soon add up. I don't mind admitting I am a bit miffed.

OakDryad Sat 22-Jan-22 13:49:35

Sometimes with family history research, when ordering certificates, you have to take a bit of punt that you have the right person. Similarly with the 1921 census although you should have more to go on. The thumb nail in the right hand corner gives the first names of some of the other people listed at the property. Add that to other information you already have from previous censuses, BMD certificates and associated records, WW1 records, the 1939 Register, electoral rolls and so on, there’s a lot to go. WW1 attestation documents are very helpful in pin-pointing where families were in 1914 onwards.

Sarnia Sat 22-Jan-22 13:57:20

OakDryad

Sometimes with family history research, when ordering certificates, you have to take a bit of punt that you have the right person. Similarly with the 1921 census although you should have more to go on. The thumb nail in the right hand corner gives the first names of some of the other people listed at the property. Add that to other information you already have from previous censuses, BMD certificates and associated records, WW1 records, the 1939 Register, electoral rolls and so on, there’s a lot to go. WW1 attestation documents are very helpful in pin-pointing where families were in 1914 onwards.

I have a few ancestors with very little detail. I began to wonder if some ever existed at all! I haven't had a look at WW1 attestation documents. I will search those. Thanks for that.

Esspee Sat 22-Jan-22 14:00:33

My ancestors are almost all Scottish. When I pay for a record I refer to it as Scotland’s People roulette. Thankfully it only costs @£1.50 a time.
I always upload a photo of any certificates to my gallery so that anyone else researching the same family doesn’t have to pay. Try checking other people’s galleries as you might find certificates there.

OakDryad Sat 22-Jan-22 14:44:56

Sarnia. WW1 attestation documents will give you name, address, age, wife's name, where and when they got married and the names and dates of birth of children.

Ilovecheese Sat 22-Jan-22 14:48:14

I don't know where you live Sarnia but in Manchester the central library are giving free access to the 1921 census on their terminals.

Callistemon21 Sat 22-Jan-22 15:20:52

Yes. I haven't even looked after the first glance.

I knew where my parents were in 1921 and DH's parents too so I'm not bothering further.

Sometimes with family history research, when ordering certificates, you have to take a bit of punt that you have the right person.
OakDryad
Yes, I did do that a few years ago with a missing family member and solved a longstanding family mystery, which was very satisfying although quite upsetting too.

Yammy Sat 22-Jan-22 16:24:22

I found my grandparents by using my mother's sisters name which was very unusual.
Does anyone know of an internet site where you can view B.M.D? without paying. I am helping to sort the chap opposite family out and really need marriage certificates for1860/1870.
I don't feel like buying as there are a few options.

SueDonim Sat 22-Jan-22 19:05:40

I’m not aware of anywhere that has BMD certs for free. The registers are free to look at but the actual certs need to be paid for.

OakDryad Sat 22-Jan-22 20:35:19

Yammy.

Ancestry are uploading more and more Church of England records where you can see a copy of the entry into the marriage register and baptismal and burial records. Coverage for London is good for the period you mention. Bristol is good too.

For London, one data collection contains marriage records and marriage banns dating from 1754-1932 from more than 10,000 Church of England parish registers (including Bishop’s Transcripts) from parishes in the greater London area that have been deposited at London Metropolitan Archives and those formerly held by Guildhall Library Manuscripts section.

Other cities and counties you may only be able to see an extract but that may give you the information you need as to date and place, names including fathers' names for a marriage, for example. You do need to be a member of Ancestry, of course.

Callistemon21 Sat 22-Jan-22 21:22:14

SueDonim

I’m not aware of anywhere that has BMD certs for free. The registers are free to look at but the actual certs need to be paid for.

But don't order them through Ancestry etc.

Find out all the information you can and order them directly from the GRO site:
www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate

SueDonim Sat 22-Jan-22 22:02:51

I’ve only ever ordered from GRO - I didn’t know there was any other way! grin

Delila Sat 22-Jan-22 23:51:41

Yammy, you could try doing some detective work on FreeBMD before paying for certificates, matching up marriage partners, dates, districts, page/ref numbers etc. You would have to pay for any certificates you go on to order, but I’ve found I’ve been able to confirm details through this site, and made some surprise discoveries too.

LullyDully Sun 23-Jan-22 08:28:27

Our library in Salisbury said it wouldn't be available in the library for 3 years because Find my past had a monopoly. So why do some libraries have it?

SueDonim Sun 23-Jan-22 12:32:22

It’s very expensive, that’s why only a few libraries are providing free access.

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/regional-hubs-to-offer-free-online-access-to-1921-census/

TerriBull Sun 23-Jan-22 12:43:25

Yes! I nearly started a thread along the same lines as you Sarnia when I first went on the site and subscribed. Unlike Ancestry, which in retrospect, I think is so much better and easy to navigate, I find FMP a massive disappointment, I completely agree with you.

NfkDumpling Sun 23-Jan-22 13:11:36

I've been researching my family through Ancestry.com - and paying monthly - and I'd rather assumed that Ancestry would purchase access to the Census. They haven't. Find My Past having a monopoly seems a bit unfair.

Oopsadaisy1 Sun 23-Jan-22 13:19:23

It could be that the National Archives chose a British company to buy the 1921 Census, rather than Ancestry which is based in the USA?
It’s a shame, but maybe it wasn’t just that money talks.
I find that FMP is difficult to navigate compared to Ancestry.

Chestnut Sun 23-Jan-22 14:11:18

In reply to the OP it is not unreasonable to charge £3.50 for each household at all. It cost millions of pounds and took three years to transcribe them. I have had no trouble at all identifying the people before paying. Maybe you need to do some more research if you can't identify your people. Try the 1911 Census and build up the family profile. For any that cannot be identified for certain (maybe away from home or whatever) I will just wait until they are available with the subscription rather than pay for them now.

Chestnut Sun 23-Jan-22 14:18:20

Yammy

I found my grandparents by using my mother's sisters name which was very unusual.
Does anyone know of an internet site where you can view B.M.D? without paying. I am helping to sort the chap opposite family out and really need marriage certificates for1860/1870.
I don't feel like buying as there are a few options.

I don't think birth or death certificates will ever be available online. They contain personal details and it's appropriate that they are ordered individually and paid for. They can be ordered as a PDF for £7 which is reasonable.

More and more marriages are coming online however, showing the entry in the parish register which provides the same details as the marriage certificate. That is amazing as it saves you £11.50 each time! Makes the subscription to Ancestry or Find My Past really worthwhile and money saving.

rubysong Sun 23-Jan-22 14:41:42

I have found people on the 1921 census but the transcription/index is awful. There are so many mistakes on everything I've looked at. My Beckett ancestors are shown as Bickett and don't come up as a variant. The village most of my family were from is wrongly transcribed and comes up as something no-one would ever find. I understand the transcribers never saw the entire form, only parts of it 'to preserve confidentiality'. If they had seen the whole form there would have been fewer errors.
My father, who would have been 16 and probably working on a farm somewhere, is nowhere to be found. I have tried all variants, place of birth, year of birth etc.
Having said all that, I don't think £3.50 is bad value for the image of the form.
I am extremely grateful to my local county library as they have provided free access to Ancestry throughout the pandemic, which has been wonderful for me.

SueDonim Sun 23-Jan-22 17:45:51

That’s why the experts recommend only buying the originals and not the transcripts, Rubysong. There are so many errors.

Elegran Sun 23-Jan-22 18:13:52

Chestnut

Yammy

I found my grandparents by using my mother's sisters name which was very unusual.
Does anyone know of an internet site where you can view B.M.D? without paying. I am helping to sort the chap opposite family out and really need marriage certificates for1860/1870.
I don't feel like buying as there are a few options.

I don't think birth or death certificates will ever be available online. They contain personal details and it's appropriate that they are ordered individually and paid for. They can be ordered as a PDF for £7 which is reasonable.

More and more marriages are coming online however, showing the entry in the parish register which provides the same details as the marriage certificate. That is amazing as it saves you £11.50 each time! Makes the subscription to Ancestry or Find My Past really worthwhile and money saving.

Yammy On FreeBMD you can see the transcripts (which I can vouch for as being pretty accurate, as I was one of the volunteers transcribing them. At least two people transcribed each page, and if they differed, they were rechecked by an experienced supervisor.

You can also follow a link from the transcript to a scan of the actual page, and see it for yourself. There are several other bits of information, about registration districts and so on. All this is free. There are other free transcript sites for free census transcripts and other things (not the 1921 census yet)

All this is free.

OakDryad Sun 23-Jan-22 18:16:28

As far as I am aware, free digital access is available at the National Archives Kew, Manchester libraries and in Wales. I have no information about why there is this disparity. Maybe it’s the same kind of thing that drives the disparity over bus passes and prescription charges depending on where one lives. Alternatively, there may be some kind of funding arrangement or reciprocity that we are not party to. Do we know, for example, how many conservationists were drafted in from regional records offices to work on the project?

The video on FindmyPast describes the enormous amount of professional work that has been done to make this resource available to family historians so I have no objection to the costs being recouped. Thinking back to those early days of research in the 1980s, I spent a small fortune on train fares to London’s Alwych and later Farringdon to trawl through registers, microfiches an miles of microfilm at St Catherine’s House, the London Metropolitan Archives and the Society of Genealogists. Once the base work was done, I spend a lot of time visiting county records offices.

I suspect may of us have volunteered as transcribers in the past. I have spent many, many hours transcribing for FreeBMD. Transcription is double-keyed by two different volunteers for each page and anomalies flagged and resolved by a third person. I don’t know to what extent transcription of censuses has been double-keyed.

I subscribe to both Ancestry and FindMyPast. I find the two complement one another. I am also grateful to the National Archives who, during lockdown, made many documents not available elsewhere and which would usually cost £3.50 to download, free of charge.

One of the changes I have noticed from 1911 to 1921 is the improvement in handwriting on the census forms. 1911 was the first time we saw our our ancestors’ own handwriting on a census. In my families’ cases, some of it was barely legible. I descend from solid lower working class stock so clearly education and self-improvement were having an effect. I’ve downloaded about twenty pages for 1921 for different family lines and the writing is neat and legible in every case. Tough times too. About 80% of the adults were out-of-work.

Elegran Sun 23-Jan-22 18:17:01

Yammy I should have added that this is for the index, and gives you a reference number for ordering a certificate. The mother's surname is also given in the index, so you have the start of a search in the index for a marriage.