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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.
Census returns are among the most popular records used by family historians and other researchers, but many of us give little thought as to what went on behind the scenes every time a census was taken. This talk explores the creation of the census, with the mass organisation of enumerators, temporary clerks, permanent civil service clerks and registrars, as well as the fascinating stories that lie behind each census, to help us better understand the records we think we know so well.
Having located a family in one of the census returns, how can one find out where the property in which they lived is located and what it looked like? An intriguing question, the solution to which is often hampered by the destruction of property during two world wars and the actions of property developers. The examples used will concentrate on the 1911 census, but will suggest avenues for earlier properties. Dr. Christopher T. Watts, FSG has nearly 40 years experience in English genealogical research, both on his own family and professionally. He recently retired after 11 years as a part-time Reader Adviser at The National Archives. He has published books on Merchant Seamen, British Army and Tracing Births, Deaths and Marriages at Sea. He is a regular speaker here in the UK and at conferences overseas. We apologise for the variable sound quality during the recording.