The schedules were selected for permanent preservation in 1983 but retained in the department as it was envisaged that they would be re-processed in the future. This work was never undertaken and the records were therefore released for transfer to the PRO in 1994
Administrative / biographical background:
In 1944 a Royal Commission on Population was appointed by royal warrant to examine the post war population trends in Great Britain, to investigate the causes of those trends and to consider what measures, if any, should be taken in the national interest to influence the future trend of population and make recommendations. Arrangements were made by the commission to take a sample family census in January 1946 because some of the most important demographic questions with which the commission was concerned could not be answered in any other way. There had not been a fertility census since 1911 and vital statistics under the Population Statistics Act dated only from 1938. The sample was representative of 10% of all women who were or had been married and 10% of those who did not say whether or not they were married and was drawn from the reference leaves of ration books returned to the food offices at the exchange of ration books in 1945.
The sample was taken on 7 January 1946. Enumeration took place between 21 January and 16 February 1946 and the following questions were asked: marital status; date of birth; date of marriage and, if applicable, its termination; date of birth of every live born child; number of children who had not yet reached their 16th birthday; husband's occupation. The name of the recipient was on the reverse. The forms were then coded by the enumerators by marital condition and occupational class group and later punched on to Hollerith cards. In order to facilitate the scrutiny and sorting of the forms each woman was given a serial number (SN) and the Food Office given a code number. The latter was different from the Food Office code number used by the Ministry of Food and a key to the codes does not appear to have survived.
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