Sabbath Concerns – the 1921 Census and an advertising slip
On 12 June 1921, The Observer reported: "The Census. Delivery of Schedules. Handsome Advertising Revenue. Distribution of schedules started yesterday, with the enclosed slips explaining that 'where the dates Sunday and Monday, April 24 and 25 occur, Sunday and Monday, June 19 and 20, must be read. The back of this correction slip has been sold to a firm of advertising agents, who are paying £1,000 for the use of each million copies". The sale of this advertising space, while rewarding the Exchequer, caused some concern in Parliament, and a series of questions was asked about tendering for the sale of space, and the outcome in terms of suitability for what could be seen as government endorsement of a product.
The Defence Force was established in April 1921 when the British Government put in place the 'Emergency Powers Act 1920'. This directive was triggered in order to overcome an industrial crisis in the coal mining industry and a threat of civil unrest. The Government was planning to decontrol the mines and railways in 1921. The coal industry was making heavy losses and owners argued that wage cuts were needed. On 1st April 1921 the Miners Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) refused terms of the wage dispute and miners were subsequently 'locked out' of the pits. Their leaders appealed to railwaymen and transport workers for a sympathy strike but on 15 April 1921 they refused and this became known as 'Black Friday'. This resulted in the end of the unions 'Triple Alliance'.
We think of our ancestors homes with only a coal fired stove to cook with and a small fireplace for warmth we may imagine them to be delightful and cosy but few perhaps consider the practicalities of the situation. In winter, there would have been times when it was so cold that ice would form on the inside of the bedroom windows, it may have been impossible to take a bath because the bathroom was so bitterly cold.. Therefore, in 1921 when the miners took decisive strike action against pay cuts it was a disastrous turn of events for everyone.
As family historians Sunday 21 March is probably a date we all have circled on our calendars. This is because we know how important it is to provide information in order to be counted for the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Maybe secretly we are hoping that the information we provide today will be as useful for our descendants as previous census material has been for us.
Imagine a highly virulent virus, of unknown origin, which was killing thousands of people young and old. And, the only way to stop it sweeping though communities and save inhabitants was to develop a vaccine and inoculate the population. The government would no doubt need to establish a vaccination policy and in fact make it compulsory.
"You're saying it's a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that" (Kellyanne Conway, 22 Jan 2017). But it isn't just presidential inaugurations which give rise to "Alternative Facts", we may find our own family research produces more than one picture of the story.