Making sense of the Census
The UK Census is perhaps the most important source for research in conjunction with birth, marriage and death records.
How can we use the census effectively?
Did the first useful census for family historians appear in 1841?
How might we use the census for understanding the lives of our ancestors, beyond the family unit?
Review what you do know, and discover what you don’t know about this important genealogical resource
The UK Census
+ Is a snap shot of a family on a particular night and shows whole family groupings
+ Started in 1801; however 1801 – 1831 was only a headcount
+ Taken every 10 years since, excluding 1941 (World War II)
+ Useful information from 1841 up to 1911
+ After civil registration the UK Government wanted more detailed information on the population
Using the Census
Use an ancestors birth certificate as a basis for searching; the names included (child and parents), place of birth, and fathers occupation should help identify the correct family on the first census after the birth
How Census information was collected
+ Each household given a schedule with census questions to complete
+ Delivered and collected later by hand by enumerators (in charge of an enumeration district)
+ Enumerators completed the forms for families if they couldn’t (sometimes leading to misinterpretation of names – either heard or written)
+ Once forms completed, these were collected in and details copied into a printed census book
+ Census books should have been double checked against schedules
+ Skills required to be an enumerator: reading and writing; pay poor so many didn’t bother with quality
+ Completed Census books sent to Government Census Office where clerks extracted information the Government required – you will see marks, ticks and crosses on the returns indicating these checks.
Further uses of the Census
+ Trawl through the returns to gain an insight into surrounding area for industries, occupations, facilities in the area
+ Track down a large scale Ordinance Survey map at the record office to look at the area
+ Look at Census Enumerators route (listed at the beginning of the Census Enumeration District) as its lists features on route; pubs, railways or hotels – giving you a feel for the area
+ View statistical information connected with each district as well as instructions given to enumerators
+ Mis-transcriptions exist on websites, try using a another website to search the index for free, and return to the subscribed site when you have more information.
Book my talk to discover
+ Introduction to the UK Census
+ Dates published
+ How to use the UK Census
+ What does it include (generally)?
+ Where to find the UK Census
+ General use of Census
+ Breaking brick walls – missing people from the census
+ What does each published year contain and how does this vary over time
+ How Census information was collected
+ Pre 1841 England and Wales Census material
+ Overseers and clergymen lists
+ Local Census lists
+ Other substantial listings
+ Further uses of the Census
+ and much more
View all my talks and book me
Robert Parker is a Genealogist and Trainer, based in Cambridgeshire. He delivers courses, guidance, talks, and research services for those interested in tracing their ancestors. See www.myfamilygenealogy.co.uk for further details. Contact Robert to discuss your requirements without obligation. What stories could your ancestors tell?