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Deciphering Census records - top tips - part 3

On to the 20th Century Census records! So far there are only 2 records available to us - the 1901 and the 1911 census returns. Currently census data is only released to the public 100 years after the date it was taken, so family historians, and genealogists up and down the country are eagerly awaiting 2021 for the 1921 census!

There were no real changes to the 1901 census so lets look at the 1911 census. 1911 saw some major changes!

The first thing you will notice is that there was 1 census per household. Meaning every house hold had their own sheet of paper to fill in. Whats more, these were often filled in by the head of the house and not an enumerator, which is great for us for two reasons!


1. Less spelling mistakes with names (people generally knew how to spell their own or close family members names correctly)


2. You actually get to see your ancestors handwriting!


(Obviously this wasn't the case for the whole population as some people were still illiterate or could only write their own signature. The head of the household still had to sign the census even if they didn't fill it in so check if the handwriting matches)

You will notice that they layout of the return is different, but all the same information can be found on here along with the addition of three very useful columns, seen in detail in the pic below.


You will see above columns 7, 8 and 9. giving us information about the total number of children born alive, still living and children who have died.

This info though sometimes sad can give us a wealth of detail about a families life. In the family in this census it tells us that there is one more child currently not living in this household (only 6 children appear on the record) and also that they have sadly had one child who has died.

We also have the addition of column 6, how long the husband and wife have been married; this can be really useful in discovering marriage records and even previous marriages.


I hope you've found this mini blog series about Cenus data helpful. Do keep an eye out for more of my hints and tips in the future, and please join my facebook group for more family history info and help.


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