1911Census.org.uk

Welcome to the 1911Census.org.uk site ...information about the 1911 census, how to access the census online, how to make the most from your searches, what is available and not available, and much, much, more.


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The 1911 census is available online for all of England, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, the Royal Navy and Overseas Military Establishments. Subscription-based access to the 1911 census from Findmypast is now available on top of the pay-per-view access that was previously available.

For more information go to the Accessing the 1911 Census page.

Alternatively, go directly to the official online 1911 census site.

Basic facts about the 1911 census

Taken on the night of Sunday/Monday April 2nd/3rd 1911.

Details recorded for each person were:

  • Name and surname
  • Relationship to head of family
  • Age (with separate columns for male and female)
  • Marital condition
  • Number of years married (married women only)
  • Children born to present marriage, still living, who have died (married women only)
  • Personal occupation
  • Industry/service with which worker is connected
  • Employment status
  • Birthplace
  • Nationality (if born abroad)
  • Any infirmity

Introduction

The census is one of the most valuable sources of archive information when trying to unravel your family history. While birth, marriage and death records allow you to discover the exact dates of these three major events in the life of your ancestors, what the census does is bring together families. It is the one place you can go to see family groups, who were the brothers and sisters of your ancestors and maybe even more - it is not unusual to find a census entry where a niece or nephew is staying with an aunt or uncle and this in itself gives you further links and further confirmation when trying to put together your family tree.

This website concentrates on the household census taken in the United Kingdom every 10 years (with one exception) from 1801 on, and in particular concentrates on the censuses of England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The Scottish census and the Irish census were taken on the same day with similar information gathered but was organised separately and are now made available to family historians under different arrangements to that for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

To date, the eight censuses from 1841 to 1911 are available for public search while those from 1801 to 1831 are not in general of much help to family historians because they for the most part did not record details of individuals. For more details on any of these censuses, click on the link on the left hand side of this page

Accessing the 1911 Census

The latest census available to the public is the eagerly awaited 1911 census. In recent years, census information has been closed, certainly for family history purposes, for 100 years. The National Archives were planning to make the 1911 census available in January 2012 but a ruling by the Information Commissioner in December 2006 meant that the National Archives was forced to make the information available now. For practical reasons, all that was immediately available was a paid for search by National Archives staff to give the details of people living at a nominated address but this has now changed.

In April 2007, the National Archives announced that brightsolid would be their partner in the project to put the 1911 census for England and Wales online. As from 13th January 2009, it is available from brightsolid's genealogy subsidiary Findmypast on a dedicated website, with a phased release, county by county; this will include images and transcription data, initially on a pay-per-view basis only.

A caveat on this is that "personally sensitive" information will not be available until 3 January 2012. This includes "details of infirmity or other health-related information, information about family relationships which would usually have been kept secret and information about very young children who were born in prison".

The 1911 Census .... when was the 1911 census taken?

The 1911 census was a household census taken on the night of Sunday 2nd April 1911. It holds information on every household, vessel, institution and overseas residencies that were part of England and Wales in 1911 (including some ships at sea, and some army units stationed overseas). A full entry would contain names of persons in each household, age, occupation, position in household (i.e. head, wife, son, grandfather etc), whether they had any illnesses and the full address of the property where they were residing that night.

The 1911 census is the first census where the householder's schedule has remained the master entry, rather than the enumerator's notes, so you will be able in most cases to view your ancestors' handwriting when looking at 1911 census entries.

The Householder and Institutional Schedules (National Archives document reference RG 14) contains 35,000 volumes detailing information relating to 35 million people in England and Wales. There are (approximately) 8,500,000 pieces of paper each slightly larger than an A3 sheet that make up the schedules, filled in by each head of household or similar authority. There are also 38,000 volumes of enumerators' summary books (document reference RG 78) to accompany the census. They hold useful and unique information that supports the census information but they do not provide the level of personal details that can be found in the census schedules.

The 1911 census sustained water damage many years ago, before it was transferred to The National Archives. This damage affected about 5% of the volumes and means that information is not retrievable from a "very small number" of household pages from these volumes. On the National Archives website they say that "there is only one volume missing from the whole series in total" but this is contradicted by findmypast who say that all of the original household pages have survived.

Some of the RG78 summary books are missing, they are listed here.

Census Details .... what information was recorded in the 1911 census?

The details recorded for each person were:

New information in the 1911 census was concerned with the family, that is the questions that had to be answered by married women on how long they had been married and how many children there were from the marriage. An article in The Times in January 1911 on the coming census said that "no such inquiry had been made at any previous Census, but its bearing on much-debated problems of national progress and retrogression is clear" - nothing changes!

Also extra information was required on professions or trade rather than simply "occupation" as asked in the previous census. The two pieces of information required, "Industry/service with which worker is connected" and "Employment status", would mean for example that someone who was unemployed at the time of the census would still give his or her usual occupation.

Organising the Census

Very precise instructions were given to try and ensure every one was counted once and only once. The rule was that someone should be included if they passed the night of Sunday April 2 1911 in this dwelling and were alive at midnight or arrived at the dwelling the following morning not having been enumerated elsewhere - intended to catch night workers. This did not include new-born children - anyone born after midnight should not have been enumerated.

Caravans and tents that were occupied on census night were counted as an inhabited dwelling. It was the job of the police to enumerate everyone who passed the night in "barns, outhouses or in the open air". To try and reduce the number of vagrants on the street, the Salvation Army opened up extra shelters for the night.

The Times reported the day after the census that the King and Queen had set an excellent example in "the careful and accurate filling-up of the census schedules" although their personal involvement appears to have been limited to telling palace staff to do the work, carefully and accurately.

It was the job of the 36,000 enumerators, mainly men, to distribute and then collect on Monday April 3rd the completed census schedules. They were paid a minimum fee of 21s plus 3s6d for every 100 persons enumerated after the first 400 as well as an allowance of 1s for every mile in excess of six "necessarily traversed in collecting the schedules". As well as distributing, collecting and checking the schedules, they also had to provide a summary of the dwellings and population in each enumeration district but they were spared the laborious work required in earlier censuses of copying schedules into the enumeration book.

Many of the enumerators worked for Boards of Guardians or other local authorities. There was concern before the census that if the headmaster of a primary school was absent doing his enumerator's duties, he would be at a disadvantage if the school were to be visited by an inspector, so inspectors were told not to choose that day to visit the school.

Failure to complete the census schedule was an offence, liable to a fine not exceeeding five pounds. The Suffragists campaign was in full flow at the time of the census and they planned to disrupt the census by staying out all night and refusing to complete a schedule. One group spent the night at a skating rink in Aldwych but they were counted there by the police so their action was considered a failure. The lack of names, age etc were seen as of secondary importance at the time although that will not be of much comfort to anyone trying to find details of suffragettes for their family tree.

Counting the Census

Once the enumerator's tasks were completed, the details were sent to a building in Millbank behind the Tate Gallery. Twenty-four calculating machines had been hired and installed there in preparation and details from the census were entered on to punched cards, one set of about 80 thousand for dwellings, a second set of about 4 million for married women and a third set of about 36 million for the rest of the population. The cards were punched to contain key information from the schedules and then sorting machines read the cards and sorted them.

The Times described how the "machines are worked and the division is accomplished by electricity. The cards pass between a wire brush and a brass roller. The wires on the brush press against one column of the card and, passing through the punched aperture in that column, establish electric contact with the roller at a spot opposite the aperture and corresponding to the particular class which the punched mark represents. A corresponding "jaw" immediately opens, the card slips into it, and is forced into one of 11 boxes representing as many classes".

All this was intended to produce the census results within a year. Provisional figures were produced on May 25th that year showing the population of England and Wales as 36 million, an increase of 10.9% since 1901.


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