Image: BBC News
New data released from a 1939 survey has released a remarkable look into British people’s lives before World War II.
The register of all living people in Britain was taken in the September after Britain went to war. It collected the names, occupations and addresses of everyone living in Britain in order to provide important ID cards, rationing and to assist with evacuation.
And there are some amazing differences these days, compared with how they lived back then.
In 1939, men worked in tough labour jobs such as engineers, farm workers, general labour workers and coal miners.
Women assumed domestic roles such as working as machinists, housewives, paid domestic help and shop workers.
According to the data, in 1939 most men were retired, but the top job was being a clerk; for women it was an unpaid domestic worker.
Nowadays, women and men share roles more equally as women are able to take on jobs usually reserved for men.
In 2015, the top job for both men and women is a manager. Other aspirational jobs include being an accountant, consultant or director.
The most popular surnames in 1939 were Williams, Jones and Smith.
The most popular girl’s name was Mary and the most popular boy’s name was John. Oliver topped the charts for boys’ names and Amelia for girls in 2015.
This information, which was collected shortly after the war broke out, is the only remaining record of the population of the UK between 1921 and 1951.
A census was taken in 1931 but was destroyed by fire in World War II, and because of the war no record was taken 1941.
There is a law that rules that census must remain secret for 100 years – but this data was from a once-off, compulsory survey required to hold information about Britain before they went to war. It was taken only 26 days after Britain declared war on Germany.
This is one of the most important documents in history as it records families separated b evacuation, conscription or worse, as well as streets that would disappear under Luftwaffe bombs.
The data also recorded information about individual’s marital status – in 1939 46.2% of Brits were married, but in 2012 the census recorded that just fewer than 25% of men and women were married.
The data also highlighted the rate of divorces in 1939 – 0.1% of the population was divorced, compared to 42% in 2012.
Over 41 million people gave their details to the survey, which allowed the government to organize conscription, rationing and workforce in such desperate times.