Tag Archives: freedom of information

What are genealogists of the future going to have to look forward to?

27 Nov

This story on the BBC News website caught my eye the other day. The basic story is that Guy Etchells has used a Freedom of Information request to try and gain access to details from the National Registration enumeration, which took place on the 29th September 1939.

The implication is that like his previous request to access the 1911 census, this could possibly lead to an early release of the data, like it did eventually for the 1911 census (and then presumably similar moaning about the price and quality of the transcription).

Given that the 1931 census has been destroyed and there was no census in 1941 (due to the Second World War), the data contained within this enumeration will probably help fill in a few gaps for some genealogists who are struggling to get past the first few generations of their family tree.

Personally I don’t think there would be much contained in the enumeration that would be of importance to me, and it is certainly not something that I think I shall be getting to excited about.

Of course there are many issues involved in deciding whether the data should be made available, not least of which is the fact that many of the individuals listed will still be alive, and in much greater numbers than was the case with the 1911 census.

What worries me most is what future generations of genealogists are going to have to look forward to?

If this data is released early then there will be nothing left between the 1921 and 1951 census. Assuming that the hundred year rule applies, between 2022 and 2052 genealogists will have very little left to look forward to. Put yourself in their shoes, could you imagine going for 30 years without the release of a major new data collection.

So fellow family historians, please lets not be too greedy, save something for your children and grand-children to get excited about. They should know the excitement of the release of a new data collection, the anticipation of the possible discoveries, and the frustrations of finding the website overloaded and a dodgy index.

What do you think? Are we too greedy and impatient as genealogists? Should we save of the excitement and frustrations for future generations? Leave me a comment and let me know.

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