Digitisation of the 1921 census, Findmypast exclusivity, and damage

FOI request reference: CAS-80166-X0G3Y9
Publication date: November 2021


With the announcement of the release of the 1921 census and FMP having exclusivity to release this I would like to know under the freedom of information act how long this exclusivity is for.
Also who has paid for the conservation of these documents and how much damage was done to the documents because of the digitisation project.




As The National Archives’ digitisation partner, Findmypast will be the only genealogy website to offer access to the 1921 Census of England and Wales. This exclusivity will last for up to three years. During that time, Findmypast will be the only place online to search the 1921 Census, as well as view images and transcriptions of the records. The 1921 Census online at Findmypast will be free to view at The National Archives in Kew.

The National Archives can confirm that Findmypast has borne the entire cost of the conservation of the 1921 Census.

Final figures show a damage rate of 0.10% during the entire digitisation process. This equates to 9403 pages out of a total of 9,119,243 pages. To put this into context further, all instances of damage, even very minor additional tears and splits along already incredibly fragile fold lines were recorded, and no pages were destroyed or damaged to an extent that any information was lost or could not be repaired by the conservation team.

A damage rate of 0.10% is considerably below the rate of damage expected to occur when using the collection in our reading rooms, most of which would go undetected. Whilst the main driver for digitising the collection is ease of world wide access, digitising the collection does also provide a long-term preservation benefit.