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1939 Register and dates of birth

Discussion in 'General Genealogical Queries' started by John Dancy, May 27, 2021.

  1. John Dancy

    John Dancy LostCousins Star

    Just a general observation, I have found a significant number of dates of birth for 'cousins' to be exactly one year out. My suspicion is that the people filling out the forms asked the householder when their, or their children's birthday was, then how old they were. They then subtracted the age from 1939 to get year of birth. So depending on when in the year they collected the information potential for error is rife.
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, this is very common - in fact, there was an example in my latest newsletter. But bear in mind that it would almost always have been the householder filling out the form.
  3. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    Are these forms available to view?
    I have an instance in one of my trees where there is only the birth year for all of the people listed, it was a mental hospital.
  4. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I doubt the forms were kept - I'm sure I enquired at the time of the release. Normally initials are shown in a census for people in a mental institution, but as the 1939 Register was primarily about identity cards it's a little surprising they weren't identified by name. My guess is that they were expected to remain in the institution for the rest of their lives, and so identity cards would not be required. If your relative subsequently left the institution you should find them elsewhere in the register.
  5. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I've always wondered why my father's birthdate is wrong by ONE DAY in the 1939 register. He was born on 9th Nov, but it appears in the register as 8th Nov. He was the sole occupant of his house, so from what you say he would have filled out the form. I can't think why he'd have got his DoB wrong. Maybe his handwriting was hard to read and/or the enumerator copied it out wrong.
  6. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    Thanks about the forms.
    I only mentioned the lack of birth dates because it was an example of them not being recorded in the 1939 register.
    I was extremely lucky and was able to trace the person from birth to death and everything in between including many stints in the Workhouse when young. in spite of all the records having her age or birth date incorrect.
    She spent 58 years in the institution before she died at the age of 95 in 1975. i don't believe she was mentally ill, I think it was mis diagnosed post natal depression.

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