Family Historian Census Event for UK 1939 Register


At the outbreak of World War II, the British people were required to register in order to obtain identity cards, ration books, etc. This is the only surviving UK national survey between 1921 and 1951, because the 1931 Census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire during the war, and no Census was taken in 1941. See The National Archives ~ 1939 Register.

Although not officially a UK Census, it is reasonable to record it as a census, because it complies with the dictionary definition given as “an official enumeration of the population including related demographic information”.

As not officially a UK Census, it is not bound by the 100-year rule, so it is available now and a boon to genealogists.

The Recording from a Census Record advice explains the importance of using the GEDCOM standard Census Event on which many other features depend, including Ancestral Sources itself, the Lookup Missing Census Facts Plugin, the ƒh standard Census Report, and Internet Data Matches. The overwhelming advantage is that it is a standard recognised by all products. The alternative of a custom 1939 Register event poses the problem of all the utilities and users agreeing to use the same definition.


Ancestral Sources uses the standard Census Event to record the UK 1939 Register details as if it were a census.

In Diagram Icons ~ Jane’s Census and Certificate Icons there is a 1939 icon.

In Family Historian, to optionally adjust the Census Event to say 1939 register instead of census in its narrative sentence use Tools > Fact Types… and Edit the Census event (see (1) & (2) in screenshot below) and set the Sentence Template to:

{individual} appeared in the {=TextIf( %FACT.DATE% = DateAt(1939,9,29), "1939 register", "census")} {date} {place} {age}

which tests the Census fact Date and if 29 Sep 1939 then displays 1939 register but otherwise displays census as in the original narrative sentence.

To also get the Facts tab and Records Window to say 1939 Register instead of Census, click the Advanced button (see (3) in screenshot), and tick both of the Use Override Template options, before setting their respective Template expressions to:

{=TextIf( %FACT.DATE% = DateAt(1939,9,29), "1939 Register", "Census")} {place}
{=TextIf( %FACT.DATE% = DateAt(1939,9,29), "1939 Register", "Census")} {date} {place}

They work in much the same way as the Sentence Template above.

To make the Year precede Census as well as Register, and omit the {date}, then set both Template expressions to:

{=CombineText("",%FACT.DATE:YEAR%,TextIf(%FACT.DATE% = DateAt(1939,9,29)," Register"," Census"),"Census")} {place}

That combines the %FACT.DATE:YEAR% with either ” Register” or ” Census” depending on the %FACT.DATE%, but if no Date then it defaults to just “Census”.

Last update: 31 Jan 2021