Talk:England and Wales Census, 1881 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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1881 British Census Indexes
From Resource Guidance

Table of Contents
What Are The 1881 Census Indexes?
How The Indexes Can Help You
What The Indexes Do Not Do
Getting Started
Step 1. Select A County
Step 2. Select The Index
Step 3. Find The Microfiche Number
Step 4. Obtain The Microfiche
Step 5. Find The Entry On The Microfiche
Step 6. Interpret And Copy The Information
View The Original Census Film
Archives In Britain
For Further Reading

The 1881 British Census Indexes are alphabetical transcripts on microfiche of the 1881 census for England, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and Scotland. There are separate indexes for each county, the Royal Navy, and Miscellaneous.
The census was taken to count and describe the population of Great Britain for administrative, medical and military purposes. Almost everyone was enumerated in the census, a total of 30 million names.
The information shown includes each person's name, age, sex, relationship to the head of house, name of the head of house, marital status, census place, occupation, county and parish where born, and references needed to find the source.
The indexes are a cooperative product of the Federation of Family History Societies , members of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies , British Genealogical Record Users Committee , Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Public Record Office in London, General Register Office in Scotland , and the Genealogical Society of Utah .

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The 1881 British Census Indexes can help you—
• Quickly find a name in the 1881 British census.
• Find the information given in the 1881 census for a person before seeing the original source .
• Find all entries of a particular surname living (or born) in a certain parish or county.
• Find information that leads to further records.

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The 1881 British Census Indexes do not—
• Include Ireland, because the 1881 census for Ireland was destroyed.
• Correct incorrect information found in the census.
• Include people who were missed on the census.

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Before you begin, you should know the name of the person you are looking for and the county where he or she may have lived in 1881.
Six Steps to Follow When Using the 1881 British Census Indexes
1. Select a county.
2. Select the index.
3. Find the microfiche number.
4. Obtain the microfiche.
5. Find the entry on the microfiche.
6. Interpret and copy the information.

These indexes are arranged by county. Therefore, determine the county you wish to search. Select the county where you believe an ancestor lived in 1881.
The Royal Navy index for Scotland and the Royal Navy index for England list people enumerated on Royal Navy ships. The Miscellaneous index for England shows people whose census place could not be determined. If you cannot find the people you are looking for in the regular county indexes, look for them in either of the Royal Navy indexes or in the Miscellaneous index.
Most of London is found under the county of Middlesex. Parishes surrounding London are included in the county to which they belonged in 1881. For example, Woolwich is under the county of Kent. Southwark is under Surrey.
In Scotland, some counties have changed names. The indexes use the old county names. If you are looking for Midlothian see Edinburgh, for Angus see Forfar, for East Lothian see Haddington, for Moray see Elgin, for West Lothian see Linlithgow, and for Zetland see Shetland.
If you do not know the county to search, look at a gazetteer.

There are four indexes for each county. The first three list names alphabetically by surname:
The Surname Index is used to find individuals alphabetically if you know their name (pink microfiche labels).
The Birthplace Index helps identify possible brothers, sisters, parents, or cousins with the same surname born in the same parish (green microfiche labels).
The Census Place Index helps identify people with the same surname living in the same parish in 1881. They may be relatives (yellow microfiche labels).
The fourth index, As Enumerated , is in the same order as the original census. As Enumerated helps identify households and neighbors living on the same street. Sometimes they are relatives (orange microfiche labels).
Decide which index will give you the information you are looking for.

To find the microfiche number for an 1881 census county-wide index or supplement, look in the Locality Search of the catalog under:
For example:
Figure 1 shows an example catalog entry for the county of Cornwall.
To find the microfiche number of the Royal Navy indexes, look in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
Find the Miscellaneous index (England only) in the Locality Search of the catalog under:
Figure 1. Find index microfiche numbers in the Locality catalog. This is an example for Cornwall, England.

Some Family History Centers already have copies of these indexes. If not, the staff at any Family History Center can help you order the 1881 British census indexes using the microfiche number. A single number may include several fiche. The microfiche indexes are also found at the Family History Library, many British family history societies, the Public Record Office, and General Register's Office.
Each microfiche has a label at the top. The label shows the locality, the type of index, and the first name on each fiche (see Figure 2). Use the information on the label to select the correct microfiche.
In the example in Figure 2, the name Blanchard, Charles is found on microfiche 0002 because Blanchard comes after Blamey but before Chinnock in the alphabet. The name Dawson, William is on microfiche 0003.
Figure 2. Each microfiche label shows the county, type of index, and beginning name on the microfiche.

Put the microfiche into a reading machine and search for the name you want. Surnames like m kay, mac kay, mackay, mc kay, mckay, o neil, and o'neil are filed separately based on the spelling, spaces, and punctuation in the name.
The Surname Index is alphabetical by surname, given name, and then by age from the oldest to the youngest (see Figure 3).
The Birthplace Index lists people alphabetically by surname, then by birthplace (county and parish), and then by given name.
Census Place Index is alphabetical by surname and then by the county and parish in which names were enumerated. Then it is alphabetical by given name.
As Enumerated is a transcript in the same order as the original census. The above three indexes provide “reference” numbers needed to find a person in As Enumerated, which is arranged by piece or volume number.
Figure 3. Example of the 1881 Census of England and Wales Surname Index for the County of Cornwall.

Record the search results in your Research Log and copy all index information for each person found.
Column Headings. Columns appear in different order on different indexes. The column marked “Relationship to Head ” refers to the indexed person's relationship to the head of the house. The “Name of Head” column lists the head of the house. In “Where Born” columns the abbreviation CO indicates the County or Country. The numbers in the columns marked “References” are used to find indexed names in the As Enumerated microfiche transcript or in the original census microfilm.
Symbols and Abbreviations. The abbreviations used in the “Age” and “Marital Condition” columns are explained at the bottom of each microfiche frame. The Family History Library publication Using the 1881 Census Indexes of England, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and Scotland explains the abbreviations in the “Where Born” and “Relationship to Head” columns. Other index symbols include:
+ more data is given on the original census
( ) in a different hand, or added to the index
(( )) census data crossed out
. . . illegible data
? uncertain data
NK not known
In the As Enumerated “Household” column:
/ a new family in the same building
// a new building or household.
Information Cut Short. If information is too long to all fit in an index column, look at another index. For example, if the birthplace is cut short, look in the Birthplace Index where more space is provided for birthplace data. You could also search the original census to see information that was cut off or abbreviated.
Supplements. If an index shows an asterisk (*) in the “Note” column, or a vessel (such as V–“CHRISTABEL”) in the “Name of Head” column, or an institution the “Name of Head” column (such as I–“UNION HOUSE”), you can find further details in the index supplements (brown microfiche labels). The following supplements are cataloged with the indexes:
• Miscellaneous Notes. Additional information pertaining to a particular entry.
• List of Vessels/Ships. Ship name, port, tonnage, and purpose of the ship.
• List of Institutions. Institution name, census place, and reference numbers.
The information under “Census” on the Miscellaneous Notes microfiche shows which column of the original census the note is taken from.
Can't Find a Name in the Index?
Before concluding an ancestor is not listed in the 1881 Census Index, consider the following:
• The name may be spelled differently. Try searching for alternate spellings.
• The name may be listed under a nickname, middle name, or initials.
• The name may be listed in a nearby county (different than you expected).
• The name may be listed in a Royal Navy or Miscellaneous index.
• Women are usually listed by married sur name, but also try maiden surnames, especially in Scotland.
• The person may have been missed by the census taker. Search other census years, or other records like civil registration or church records to find information about the person.

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The indexes transcribe virtually all data on the original census. Some information in the indexes is modified slightly to accommodate space limitations. We encourage you to compare the index and the original census by using the reference numbers provided in the index to find the selected name in the census films.

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Copies of the indexes and census for England and Wales are available at the Public Record Office in London, and at other local libraries and archives. Copies for Scotland are at the General Register's Office in Edinburgh and at other local libraries and archives.

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For more detailed instructions see the Family History Library publication Using the 1881 Census Indexes of England, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and Scotland. Several other books also explain the census, such as these:
Higgs, Edward. Making Sense of the Census. London: HMSO, 1989. Public Record Office Handbooks, No. 23. (FHL book 942 X27h).
Lumas, Susan. An Introduction to . . . Census Returns in England & Wales. Birmingham: Federation of Family History Societies, 1992. Public Record Office Reader's Guide, No. 1. (FHL book 942 X27Ls).
Lumas, Susan. Making Use of the Census. 2nd ed. London: PRO Publications, 1993. (FHL book 942 X27L).

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We thank the Federation of Family History Societies, the Scottish Association of Family History Societies, other participating societies, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Public Record Office, General Register Office for Scotland, and volunteers who made these indexes possible.
The 1881 Census of England and Wales and the 1881 Census of Scotland contain British Crown copyright data which may not be reproduced without authority.

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