Talk:England Census

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How Can the England Census be improved?   Leave your comments  

Feel free to click the edit button on the right side here and leave an message pertaining to this project or task. Click 'Watch' also so you know if an update has been added to the page.

The goal is to write about topics and and create subtopics when necessary and when anything becomes to lenghty create a new page and link  to it.  If someone on the web has created a page on the subject matter then link to it.  This 'England Census" page becomes the main reference that highlights the important points. and links to all the pertaining subject matter.

Writing is a developing process.  Often after writing something it is wise to review the words and sentence and paragraphs to improve upon them.  With your own website you are the sole contributor but with a wiki others may change your contribution.  Chances are no one will improve upon your work, so review your own writing often.  There is no doubt that if you read your work often you will see how it can be changed and improved.

The main thing to remember is to keep everything on topic.  More to follow...

A few things that would be worth adding:

  • The exact dates of the census for each of the years for which it's been published. This is often very important to genealogy (eg it can narrow down when a person was born or died).                                               There is a link in the 'Understanding the Census' section that goes over all these details.  It is quite a lengthy page,  if we wanted to we could create our own page and link to it but I think the likley thing to do it to expand on the sentences so a person can find that link or perhaps create a Link Section at the bottom of the page.
  • Expand this paragraph  "The census details have changed little from year to year. There is a detailed listing of the changes made to the census over the years starting in 1841. At GENUKI website you will find an excellent explanation of the census records and availability. (Examples of Census - 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871) NOTE: Many of the websites have not yet updated their pages to include the 1911 census."
  • At least a mention of the pre-1841 censuses. Very few records of these survive, but the few that do can be gold dust! Kent FHS have published a few on fiche for instance.                       Which section does that fit into?  I think that a new section or subsection in 'Undertanding the Census'  If there is enough info then we could create a new page and link to that.
  • Some of the reasons that information in censuses may be wrong. Ages are often wrong (for instance, people who take much younger spouses often find that the years fall away from themselves as well!) Places given as the birthplace may be approximate and may not be the same place as the person was baptised. Often the further people are living away from their birth place, the less precise they are.
  • Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that the way it worked, at least in the earlier years, was that the head of household wrote down the information about all the people therein. Some were more conscientious than others; some felt it indelicate to ask ladies their ages; some with lodgers seem to have guessed.      When we start talking about all the given situations  that may or may not apply to a persons situation then I think it could be quite lengthy so a new page would need to be created called ' Census Search Strategies'  or smoething down those lines.  If someone can't find there ancestor then they would have a page to go to see what other options they have.

I could add some of the above if it would be useful. Stevewest 15:11, 6 March 2009 (UTC)  I hope I have given some ideas that will be of use.  Creating a new page is very simple in fact it is to simple  In fact you can change the name of a page you do not like as well. 


The reference to the Family History Librart edition of is not a correct statement. The site is available to any library wishing to subscribe. The sentence should be revised to refer to  ancestryinstitution is available for use in the Family History Library or the library has subscribed to it. I can make the change if you don't mind.

I added two short, general articles about the census. The titles are England Census: Information and Description of the Contents and the other is England Census: What It Is and How It Was Gathered. My purpose in adding them is to allow an individual who has no knowledge of the census, or a teacher of a class, to learn about the census on their own. I have others I want to add but before I do, I want your opinion as to the value of the ones just added. Some of the information is in the England Census article and perhaps separate articles are not necessary. They are not linked yet. If I didn't know anything about the census, I'd prefer to get a quick explanation and a few links rather than reading the entire England Census article.   Anne 18:10, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

I assume that you are having trouble incorporating your content into the current census page.  I think that much of it fits into what is already there.  If your aim is to create another page for another purpose an it would serve a purpose to that group of people then I would create it.  Feel free to take anything on the page and put it in different words.  If you do not have the confidence to do so then seek advice from a collegue.   Don  1 May 2009

Could someone put the directions on how to create a date stamp on this page and put it in the search engine as well.

The best way to drive writers away is to nit pic at there writing. 

Good comment about adding name and time stamp. I was told verbally that if I typed 3 tildes, it adds my name. If I type 4 tildes, my name and the date is added. I would be nice to have it in an article on the Help with the Wiki page. On my keyboard, the tilde is on the left side above the tab key.

Two reasons to create separate census were to 1) keep from adding a lot more to the already-too-long England census article; and 2) be stand-alone articles that people teaching beginners. I've added and edited many articles so I'll look at the England census article to see where information could be inserted. Thanks for your suggestion. Anne 17:16, 4 May 2009 (UTC)


To Barbara Baker - I see that you have been working on the format of the England Census page (at least, I think it's you).  I very much like what you have done.  The previous version just went on and on.  Now it is divided up into more meaningful units.  I'm glad I was able to add a few small items that were of value.  Ellisgj 19:13, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

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I haven't been to the page for a while and was surprised at what I found.  It took me a while to click through the links to see what was there.  For a minute I thought somethings had been deleted. I really didn't see a problem with the old format. 

Transfer from Research Guidance

The following information has been transferred from Research Guidance. It needs to be reviewed and if necessary, incorporated.

Kara 21:46, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

England, How to Use Census Records
A census is a count and description of the population. The censuses of England and Wales are
especially helpful for family history research because they list the majority of the population and
are readily available. Censuses of genealogical value have been taken every ten years since
1841, with the exception of 1941.
For more information about the census see Background.
What You Are Looking for
The information you will find varies from record to record. These records may include:
• Name.
• Age.
• Marital status.
• Address.
• Birthplace.
• Relationship to the head of the household.
• Occupation.
These 8 steps will help you search the census.
Step 1. Decide which years your ancestor may appear in census
Based on your ancestor's approximate birth, marriage, and death dates, decide which years to
search. The following censuses are available:
• 1841
• 1851
• 1861
• 1871
• 1881
• 1891
England, How to Use Census Records
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/08/01
Step 2. Identify the town or parish where your ancestor lived.
You need to know the name of the place where your ancestor lived to find him or her in the
census. If you do not know where your ancestor lived, see How to Find the Name of the Place
Your Ancestor Lived.
Step 3. Decide where you will search the census.
You may find copies of census records at the following locations:
• Family History Centers
• Family History Library
• Family Records Centre, London
• County Record Offices
• Archives and Libraries
• Family History Societies
Step 4. Look for a census index for the place where your
ancestor lived.
Indexes can save you research time.
There may be a census surname index for the place where your ancestor lived. See Census
Surname Indexes.
If you know the name of a street, look for a street index. Street indexes are especially helpful for
searches in larger cities. See Census Street Indexes.
If no census indexes are available for the place, go to step 5.
Step 5. Find the census record.
Use the catalog of the repository you chose in step 3 to find the census microfilm or microfiche
numbers for the place where your ancestor lived. See Where to Find It.
Step 6. Search the census record.
If you have an index reference, including a piece or bundle number and a folio number, search
the microfilm or microfiche copy of the census until you find the part of the census that matches
the index reference. Find the household that includes your ancestor.
If you did not use an index, search the census record name by name. The census is not arranged
For suggestions of things to keep in mind when searching the census records, see Tip 1.
If you did not find your ancestor in the census, see Tip 2.
Step 7. Copy the information from the census and note the
Copy the information from the census onto the family group sheets and pedigree chart for your
ancestor. Make a photocopy if possible. You may also print out a blank census form to make an
exact transcript.
England, How to Use Census Records
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/08/01
Document your source. Be sure to record where the information came from on your forms, your
photocopies, and on your research log.
To learn how to keep good notes, see Note Taking & Keeping for Genealogists.
Step 8. Analyze the information found on the census.
Compare any information you found on the census with knowledge you already have about your
ancestor. Does it:
• Conflict with what you know? If the information conflicts, use other sources to verify.
• Support what you know?
• Add to what you know?
Then ask yourself:
• Did the source have the information I wanted?
• Is this information accurate?
• Does this information suggest other sources to search?
The English and Welsh government has taken censuses every ten years since 1801, except
1941. The first genealogically useful national census was taken in 1841. Earlier censuses contain
only statistical information. Some parishes, however, compiled lists of names, a few of which
survive. For more information about pre 1841 census lists see Local Census Listings 1522-1930
Holdings In The British Isles by Jeremy Gibson and Mervyn Medlycott or Pre-1841 Censuses &
Population Listings In The British Isles by Colin R. Chapman. These booklets can be purchased
through the Federation Family History Societies.
The 1841 census is arranged by:
• Hundred.
• Parish.
• Town, chapelry, hamlet, village, etc.
• Household.
The 1851 through 1891 censuses are arranged by:
• Census district.
• Enumeration district.
• Parish.
• Town, chapelry, hamlet, village, etc.
• Street.
• Household.
The 1851 through 1891 censuses may give the following information:
• Name.
• Relationship to the head of household.
• Marital condition.
• Age.
• Gender.
England, How to Use Census Records
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/08/01
• Occupation.
• Place of birth.
The 1841 census may give the following information:
• Name.
• Age (rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5 for all persons aged 15 and older).
• Gender.
• Occupation.
• Indication of birthplace by county or country (specific birthplace not given).
Tip 1. What should I keep in mind when searching census
• Accept ages with caution.
• Given names may not be the same as the name recorded in church or civil records.
• Information may be incorrect.
• Names may be spelled as they sounded to the enumerator and not as you expect.
• Place names may be misspelled.
• Parts of the censuses are faint and sometimes unreadable.
• Search in surrounding towns or parishes for individuals missing from a family.
Tip 2. What if I did not find my ancestor in the census?
• Your ancestor may have been living, visiting, or working in another place. Search other areas,
and be sure to search for indexes to those areas first. See step 4.
• The name may be spelled differently than expected. Watch for spelling variations.
• Your ancestor may have emigrated.
• A female ancestor may have married or remarried.
• Your ancestor may have died before the census was taken. Look for other family members.
Where to Find It
Family History Centers
Family History Centers can borrow microfilms and microfiche of the census from the Family
History Library for a small fee. To find the microfilm or microfiche numbers for each census year,
look in the Family History Library Catalog. Go to What to Do Next, select the catalog, select a
county, and look for census records for the parish where your ancestor lived.
You may request photocopies of the census from the Family History Library for a small fee. You
must provide the microfilm or microfiche number, and the piece, folio, and page numbers
obtained from an index. You will need to fill out a Request for Photocopies-Census Records,
Books, Microfilm or Microfiche form, which is available from the Family History Centers and
Family History Library. Send the form and the fee to the Family History Library.
England, How to Use Census Records
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/08/01
Family History Centers are located throughout the United States and other areas of the world. For
the address of the Family History Center nearest you, see Family History Centers.
Family History Library
The Family History Library has microfilm and microfiche copies of the census. There is no fee for
using the microfilms and microfiche in person.
To find the microfilm or microfiche numbers for each census year, look in the Family History
Library Catalog. Go to What to Do Next, select the catalog, select a county, and look for census
records for the parish where your ancestor lived.
Family Records Centre, London, England
Census records and indexes for 1841 through 1891 can be searched at:
The Family Records Centre
1 Myddleton Street
London EC1R 1UW
Copies of the original enumerator's returns for the censuses of 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881,
and 1891 for England, Wales, Channel Islands, and The lsle of Man are at the Family Records
Centre. These records may be searched there. A Public Record Office Readers' Guide No. 17
has been produced entitled Never Been Here Before? a genealogists' guide to the Family
Records Centre, by Jane Cox and Stella Colwell.
At the Family Records Centre instructional leaflets are available describing how to use the census
records for various census years. Note that these leaflets refer very specifically to resources
found in the Family Records Centre. Therefore, you should print out the leaflets for use when you
visit the centre.
Office for National Statistics
Census records less than one hundred years old are confidential and cannot be searched by
individuals. However, the 1901 census can be searched for you. To obtain an application and the
cost for this search, write to:
Office for National Statistics
Census Legislation, Room 4303
Segensworth Road, Titchfield
Hampshire PO15 5RR
The search will be done only if you provide the name and address (at the time the census was
taken) of the individual you are seeking. You must also get the written consent of the person on
the record or of a direct descendant. The individual's age and birthplace will be the only
information provided.
England, How to Use Census Records
Research Guidance
Version of Data: 08/08/01
Local repositories in England
The original census records have been microfilmed, and many local repositories in England and
Wales have copies of the records for their areas. A list of the local repositories and their holdings
can be found in the publication Census Returns 1841 - 1891 in Microform: A Directory to Local
Holdings in Great Britain; Channel Islands; Isle of Man, by Jeremy Gibson and Elizabeth
Hampson. If it is not available at a library near you, it may be purchased from the Federation of
Family History Societies.
Addresses of local repositories can be accessed through Archon (Archives on Line). To search
for County Record Offices, click on Archon. Use one of the two following methods to search:
• If you know the exact name of the County Record Office, click on Repository Search. Put in
the name of the record office, and press Search. The record office information and address
should appear.
• If you want to browse through the list of repositories, click on Repository List. Select the
country in which the repository is found. A screen with an alphabetical list of repositories will
appear. You can shortcut the search by clicking on the alphabet bar at the top of the screen.
This will let you jump to the part of the index that you need.
Archives and Libraries
Archives and libraries elsewhere in the world may also have microform copies of census records
in their collections. Check with an archive or library near you (see Ready, 'Net, Go.)
Family History Societies
Every county in England and Wales has at least one family history society which promotes family
history research for its area. Many societies maintain libraries, and some societies have
microform copies of census records for their area in their library collections. You may find lists of
family history societies and their addresses on the Internet. Go to the member societies list of the
Federation of Family History Societies to find a society of interest to you. Contact the society
about their library holdings.