Well, hopefully that got your attention, but of course it’s not 100% true 🙁

However, I do want to explain how you really can get a lot, perhaps even all you need, from this new data set without having to pay anything.

The basic concept is that searching the database costs nothing. Charges only start if you want to “unlock the household” as FMP describe it, or in other words look at the full original document.

Searching for an individual is easy, just enter their surname, given name(s) and year of birth and you will get a list of possible records. If necessary narrow it done by details like county, district etc, until you have a manageable list.

But that only gets you one person. If you click the “Preview” button it might tell you there are others at the same address, some that are viewable and others that will be “closed”.  What you really want to know is who those others (apart from the ‘closed’ ones) are, without having to carry out multiple searches, which still might not tell you they are in the same house.

The answer is surprisingly simple. Here is an example of the “preview” you get for the first person you found:


The valuable information you need next is the “Ref: RG101/1858F/005/41” at bottom left, or to be precise you need just two parts of it, 1858F and 005. With these two numbers you can quickly get a list of ALL the (not closed) individuals on that entire page of the register!

With those numbers saved, go back to the search results and click “New search”. Don’t enter anything except, right near the bottom of the page, in the two boxes labelled “TNA REFERENCE”. Enter the first part (1858F in my case) into the “Piece Number” box, and the second (005 in my case) in the “Item number” box. Click search and you will get the full page list. That’s usually about 30 names, depending how many are “closed”. A full page looks like about 44 names, but most pages have at least some closed records.

As of 8th November FMP have removed the TNA Ref. from the preview display. Apparently, according to their FaceBook page they are “working on this area” and will be reinstating it. Time will tell! However all is not lost. When you click the “Preview” button look at the URL it creates. It will look like this:

The references you need are in there still if you strip out the “%2f” which are code for “/”. But to make it easier you can use this page which does all that work automatically for you: [span color=”hue”]1939 Register: TNA Reference finder [/span]

As of 18th November FMP have now encoded those URL’s!! But they havn’t beaten us yet 🙂  The TNA reference IS still there, you just need to look a little deeper. So now when you find an individual in the 1939 Register got to their “Preview screen (Click the “preview ” button). Then click Ctrl+U or right-click and select View page source or similar depending on your browser.  Search down the page for a phrase like this: “TNA/R39/0882/0882G/015/37”. Select and copy it.

Now go to my conversion page:  [span color=”hue”]1939 Register: TNA Reference finder [/span] and paste that code into the box, click submit, then click the new link it will provide to get to the FMP page for that reference.

From that list you should be able to recognise your family either because you know their names, or simply because they will share a common surname. You will also know if there are more that you don’t recognise by comparing the number you do with the total number given on the earlier preview screen. In my example you will see that is two, one shown and “1 more person on this record”. I also have “5 more people who are officially closed”, which matches exactly the living children in this family (my mother and her siblings) at that time. You also have their full names, perhaps some alternative names (shown in brackets on the results list) and their year of birth.

As of 1st December FMP have finally removed ALL easily viewable sources of the TNA reference. They ARE still there, hidden in encrypted references such as “tnnco3qcnsmp ru2z4oekvkiqh sjug62cqkwjfe 5zld5yabyv4cwq”. This is the encrypted form of “R39 0882G 015 37″. If you are well versed in the black arts of hacking this is not particularly hard to decode. But it’s not an area I will make public, so have hidden my  [span color=”hue”]1939 Register: TNA Reference finder [/span] page from general public view, keeping it just for my own use. Sorry, but you’ll have to blame FMP for that. Clearly they are losing so much money from this over-hyped marketing exercise they need to ensure there are no ways to access anything vaguely useful without paying through the nose for it!!

So now you REALLY have to decide if it’s worth paying to see the rest of the information. Only you can answer that.  I certainly don’t think it is worth it from the ones I ahve “opened”. Are you a gambler? Do you think there “might” be more useful information. What you should get for your payment will be:

  • Exact dates of birth
  • Occupations
  • The exact address of the household

In most cases that is all. Are those things useful to you, or do you already know them?

You ‘might’ occasionally find some handwritten extra information. I found my Gt grandfather was noted as an “A R P Warden” in addition to his normal occupation, which is interesting but not an essential part of his genealogy record.

You will also find transcription errors. FMP are selling this (at a reasonably high price) as a special database they have worked hard to digitise on behalf of the nation. But in truth it is much like any other transcribed record and does inevitably have a fair number of transcription errors. No one should be surprised or upset by that. Transcribing is a hard and often boring task. Mistakes are inevitable. It’s just something we as genealogists need to accept and learn to work with. It applies to ALL record types, not just digitised ones.