England Census Records -- Finding and Using the Originals and Copies
Census Records in England Repositories
The original census returns are housed at The National Archives of the UK at Kew, London, England. Considering the fragile condition of the originals, they are generally closed to the public. The returns have been microfilmed and have also been digitized, and the images as well as indexes are available online.
Microfilmed copies of census records are available at many archives, libraries, and other record repositories in England. For contact information for the repositories, try these web sites:
- The National Archives (including their Access to Archives service)
- Genealogy for the United Kingdom and Ireland (GENUKI)
Census Records at the Family History Library
The Family History Library has online subscriptions to various websites that give access to indexes (and sometimes images) of the census records for 1841 through 1911, and provides that access free-of-charge to library patrons. It also has microfilm copies of the census for 1841 through 1891. The film numbers are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog by using the Place Search for the name of the parish and the topic of Census. They are also listed in the following library source:
- Index of Place-names Showing the Library Microfilm Numbers for the 1841–1891 Census of England, Wales, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Family History Library, 1999. (FHL book 942 X2pi, 1999; also on microfiche 6024509.)
An extension of the library are the Family History Centers located around the world. Anyone can borrow microfilm copies of census through the family history centers. Some large centers may also have subscriptions to websites that provide online access to the census.
How to Search the FamilySearch Catalog for Census
To find microfilm numbers listed in theFamilySearch Catalog, for the census of a town of interest to you, use the Place Search for the parish and click on the link for the topic of Census. If Census is not listed among the topics for that parish, it is probably part of a city. Search using the city name. You should look in a gazetteer to determine the parish where your town is located.
Census Records Available Online
Here are online websites which provide online access to England census records:
- 1841 and 1861 censuses are searchable at Records Search.
- 1881 census is searchable at FamilySearch.org.
- 1841 through 1901 are searchable at the subscription site, Ancestry.com, however some of the indexes can be searched for free.
- findmypast, also by subscription, is the only website providing access to all available census years from 1841 through 1911.
These additional websites also have content published online at no cost or may provide links to numerous other websites: