Behind the Scenes: Two Centuries of Census-taking

Listen to This Lesson

Lesson Supplements



The census has been described as a 'snapshot in time', recording the nation as it stands at midnight on one Sunday every ten years. But the preparation for each census started years before each census date, and the collating and publishing of the results continued long after. This talk takes a look at the army of civil servants, temporary clerks, registrars, enumerators and others, and the part they played in this astonishing feat of organisation once a decade. Of course, there were incidents and accidents along the way, some of which are revealed in the talk, including the only time advertising was allowed on census material: it didn't end well!

Audrey Collins is family history records specialist with a particular interest in the history and organisation of the General Register Office, including the census. She is the author or co-author of several family history books and has contributed to a number of family history magazines. One of the highlights of Audrey's years as a freelance researcher was when she was retained as official Census historian by the Office for National Statistics for the bi-centenary census in 2001. She joined The National Archives in the following year as a Reader Adviser.

Additional Information

Language English
Place England
Lesson Owner The National Archives
Skill Level Intermediate
Lesson Creation Date 3 June 2011
Presenter Audrey Collins

All rights reserved. Permission of copyright owner required for reproduction or other use beyond that allowed by law.