The National Archives UK have released a talk on the creation and use of the 1939 Register. Available either as a webinar or audio podcast, the talk runs for just over an hour and is presented by Records Specialist Audrey Collins.
The Register, taken on 29 September 1939, provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. As the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire duringWW2 and no census was taken in 1941, the 1939 Register helps fill the gap created. Whilst the 1939 Register is not a census, it is arranged along similar lines and includes similar, if less detailed, information.
The records were used to produce up-to-date population statistics and identification cards and, once rationing was introduced in January 1940, to facilitate the issuing of ration cards. Information in the Register was also used to administer conscription, and to monitor and control the movement of the population caused by military mobilisation and mass evacuation.