Scotland 1921 census: when will the 100-year old census be available to view, and will next year's be the last?

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)
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The census takes place every decade, and is an invaluable tool in recording the country’s population.

Just as it’s a great tool for getting an idea of what the current population looks like, it can also be invaluable to those hoping to learn about the past.

Those interested in tracing their family tree are often particularly interested in what each census holds.

So when will Scotland’s 1921 census be available to view?

When can I view the 1921 census?

In England and Wales the census is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). North of the border, National Records of Scotland takes charge while in Northern Ireland the survey is organised by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Though Scotland’s census is handled slightly differently from the same count in England and Wales, the release date of historical censuses are all governed by the same parliamentary act.

Under the 1920 Census Act, the 1921 census can’t be published online until over a hundred years have passed.

That means you can expect the records to be made available next year (2021). But you might have to wait slightly longer than that still.

According to Who Do You Think You Are?, it was announced in 2019 that online genealogy service Findmypast had won the contract to publish it in January 2022.

When is the next Scottish census?

“Planning for the next census is well underway ahead of March 2021," say Scotland's Census, who have already undertaken a census rehearsal in three areas of Scotland last year.

“The census in 2021 is being designed and managed in Scotland, to best meet the needs of its users, and will be conducted primarily online, with support available for those who need it.”

Households in parts of Dumfries and Galloway and Glasgow City and across the whole of Na h-Eileanan Siar took part in the rehearsal.

Why is it controversial?

The Census has been the centre of heated debate about sex and sexual orientation since the legislation for the new Census Bill was first laid before Parliament in late 2019.

For the first time ever, a voluntary question on sexual orientation will be included, but while MSPs approved the move, concerns were later raised that the actual question - if answered online - would include a "predictive text box", where people could choose from a list of 21 sexualities, rather than just heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.

The National Records of Scotland, which produces the Census question, proposed that if someone clicked on the "other sexual orientation" box, they could choose from options such as "skoliosexual", "gynephilic", "demi­romantic" and "unsure".

The introduction of the list has been backed by 72 LGBT+ organisations who have written to MSPs saying: "We stand for full inclusion in the census. People must be allowed to record their own sexual orientation, even if they use less common terms."

However, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, convener of Holyrood's culture committee which is scrutinising the draft Census Order, said that the catalogue of sexualities had left the NRS open to "ridicule".

Will 2021 be the last census?

South of the border, it’s been revealed that the 2021 census could be the last that the public in England and Wales ever has to fill out.

The news came as the country's leading statistician looks at ways of possibly replacing the once-in-a-decade survey with a cheaper and more effective option.

Even though most people will be expected to complete their forms online, the price tag is almost the double the last census in 2011.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the UK's National Statistician, is reportedly exploring whether the data typically collected in the compulsory census could be gathered from other sources including the Ordnance Survey, GP registrations, council tax records and driving licences.

As mentioned, the Scottish census is handled differently by the National Records of Scotland, and no word on whether the 2021 census will be the last for Scotland has been given.