Catalogue description General Register Office: National Registration: Correspondence and Papers

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Details of RG 28
Reference: RG 28
Title: General Register Office: National Registration: Correspondence and Papers

Papers relating to the preparations for and the administration of the system of National Registration during and after the First and Second World Wars, including records of several committees concerned with its operation, and to tribunals set up under the Military Service Acts 1916-1918. Later material relates to peacetime planning for national registration in the event of war and the wartime implementation and uses.

Date: 1915-1991

The 1915 National Registration forms and memoranda were numbered sequentially.

Related material:

Records of the military service tribunals themselves are in MH 47

Separated material:

Specimens of some of the 1939-1952 documents are wanting.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

General Register Office, 1836-1970

Office for National Statistics, 1996-

Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, 1970-1996

Physical description: 317 files and volumes
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

From 1977 Office of Population Censuses and Surveys

Accruals: Series is accruing.
Administrative / biographical background:

The National Registration Act 1915 provided for a register of all persons between the ages of 15 and 65, who were not members of the Armed Forces. The central registration authority was the Registrar General acting under the direction of the Local Government Board, while the councils of metropolitan and municipal boroughs and all urban and rural districts were the local registration authorities. The information supplied under the Act provided manpower statistics and also enabled the military authorities to discriminate between persons who should be called up for military service and those who should in the national interest be retained in civil employment.

Three main committees were set up. First, the National Registration Committee, an advisory body under the chairmanship of Cyril Jackson, was appointed in July 1915 to consider the use of the information obtained by the National Register. This was followed by the National Register Committee (under the Chairmanship of the Marquess of Lansdowne) which was appointed in September 1915 by the Prime Minister to advise the Government on the best method by which the National Register could be utilised for the successful prosecution of the war. On 17 May 1917 the National Registration Committee under the chairmanship of the Rt Hon W Hayes Fisher MP was appointed to consider (i) the question of the registration of the population for administrative and other national purposes, and (ii) what changes, if any, were desirable in the system of registration of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales.

National registration was discontinued after the First World War, but the subject was considered by the Committee of Imperial Defence from 1923 to 1939. Under the provisions of the National Registration Act 1939, civilian households were enumerated on 29 September 1939 to compile a National Register. The primary purpose was to provide identity and ration documents and to control the call-up for the forces. National registration was discontinued in February 1952.

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