1939 Register

By Rosemary Bailey

This article was published in the August 2022 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society

You might remember in the last journal that at the end of an article by Carol Saul on the 1921 census that I had written a bit about my experiences of it and of my discovery of the 1939 Register. On finding the entry for my mum’s family I had written:
Two things struck me, firstly was that across the entry for my uncle, who would have been aged seven at the time, was a black bar saying ‘This record is officially closed’. Then I was amazed to find that my mother’s name was given correctly for 1939 as Marjorie Whitehouse but that ’Bailey’, her married name from 1954, was written in what looks like green biro beside it.
Several members emailed me with the answer, including Geoffrey Knott who said:
… I’ve just received the latest Soul Search and may be able to help with your queries about the 1939 Register, since an explanation was given some time ago on Family Historian Users Group, by somebody who, if memory serves correctly, worked in some administration capacity in NHS. Unfortunately I can’t find his explanation, so I’ll have to go by what I recall, but don’t take this as gospel.
As you say, the Register was used to issue Identity Cards and Ration Books. It was subsequently used by the NHS and/or ONS for various purposes and was kept updated by them, hence the later ballpoint entries for things like name changes (for example, of a woman on marriage). This amendment was given a reference and a date which are usually visible.
Incidentally, I’ve just re-checked the 1939 Register entry for my mum, knowing that there would be a subsequent amendment, and indeed there was. It records her in her maiden name of Butler, with an amendment in green ballpoint, giving her married name of Knott, with a date and a series of reference letters. The letters presumably refer to the source of the information about the name change, and the date given appears to be the date of either the amendment or of the document to which the letters refer, not to the date of her marriage which was some weeks earlier.
I am delighted to have received the information, and my uncle is actually still alive so it is correct that his name is redacted. Thanks to Geoffrey and the other members for contacting me about this.