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1911 England and Wales census now available online

The National Archives today announced the availability of the 1911 census for England, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. I immediately visited their website, performed a search, paid for the image, and experienced my latest Genealogy Happy Dance.

Using the website was very user-friendly. In the search box, I entered the name and year of birth of my wife's great-granduncle, Tom Hague and clicked on the Search button. A list of possible matches appeared, from which I could easily identify the correct person.

To view the information, you have two choices: you can view the transcript (for 10 credits) or the actual image (30 credits). Knowing that viewing original images are always more reliable than a transcript I paid the £6.95 ($10.12 USD) for 60 credits. I can view up to two images for this amount, which seems quite pricey, but is certainly a bargain considering I don't even have to leave my office chair to obtain a copy of the record.

I immediately was impressed with the quality of the image. In fact, the digitized images are in full color, making it easier than any other record I've worked with to read. The census lists the following information:

  • Name and surname
  • Relationship to head of family
  • Age and sex
  • Marriage status
  • How many years married
  • Number of children of the present marriage
  • Total number of children born alive
  • Number of children still living
  • Occupation
  • Exact birthplace of each person
  • Nationality if born in a foreign country
  • Infirmity information

The next thing I'll do is add the census information to my Legacy family file, including the complete source citation. It doesn't look like all of the citation parts are the same as prior census years, so I've contacted the National Archives to have them provide that information. Hopefully we'll be able to release a new Legacy update soon that has the 1911 census built in to the SourceWriter.

We will also add guidance to Legacy's Research Guidance which will make it easy for you to manage your 1911 census searching.

Search the 1911 census

To search the census, click here.

Press Release

Here is the press release from Findmypast.com:

* Online access to the records of 36 million people in 1911
* Major new family history resource

36 million people were recorded in the census taken on the night of Sunday, 2 April, 1911. Today, after nearly 100 years, these census records are available to the public at www.1911census.co.uk.

The census covered England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, as well as recording those aboard Royal Naval and Merchant vessels at sea and in foreign ports and, for the first time in a British census, full details of British Army personnel and their families in military establishments overseas. It is the most detailed census since UK records began and the first for which the original census schedules have been preserved - complete with our ancestors' own handwriting - providing a fascinating insight into British society nearly a century ago.

From today over 27 million people's census entries - 80 per cent of the English records - will be available. A further nine million records of people from the remaining counties of England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, as well as the naval and overseas military records, will be made available over the coming months.

www.1911census.co.uk is easy to access and enables the public to view high quality colour images of their ancestors' original handwritten census returns. Transcribed text versions of the records ensure they are fully searchable by name or address.

Public demand for the 1911 census, which will be a key resource for family historians, has resulted in the records being released earlier than the scheduled 2012 date. To make this early online release to the public possible, the 1911 census team worked around the clock for two years - scanning on average one census page per second. In line with data protection legislation, certain sensitive information relating to infirmity and to children of women prisoners will be held back until 2012.

Comprehensive and rigorously tested, www.1911census.co.uk has been developed by UK-based family history website findmypast.com, owned by brightsolid, in association with The National Archives.

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at findmypast.com, said: "The 1911 census offers a crucial new entry point to family history research for a wide range of people, from novice family historians to seasoned genealogists who have hit a 'wall' in their family tree research. As well as helping people trace their ancestors, these records shed more light on our ancestors' day-to-day lifestyles, providing a snapshot of a day in their lives, with details of their occupations, housing arrangements and social status."

The 1911 census is huge - occupying over two kilometres of shelving - an incredible eight million paper census returns have been transcribed to create over 16 million digital images. This makes the 1911 census one of the biggest digitisation projects ever undertaken by The National Archives in association with a commercial partner.

Oliver Morley, Director of Customer and Business Development at The National Archives, commented: "This is a major achievement. By teaming up with findmypast.com, we are bringing history to life for millions. This remarkable record is available online to researchers and family historians all over the world for future generations. The 1911 census is a poignant reflection of how different life was in early 20 century Britain, before the Great War."

Due to the widespread popularity of family history, it is anticipated that www.1911census.co.uk will experience a high level of visitors logging on to search the records, especially in the first weeks of launch.

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at findmypast.com, advises: '"We aim to deliver a quality service that has high but not infinite capacity. If visitors do experience a short delay in accessing the records via www.1911census.co.uk soon after launch, we would advise them to try again later when the website becomes less busy. www.1911census.co.uk is here to stay and access to the online census records will be unlimited permanently from today."

Handwritten records
Completed by all householders in England and Wales on Sunday, 2 April 1911, the census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home, as well as their relationship to the head of the household.

People will also have unique access to their ancestors' handwriting as the original householders' schedules were preserved and used as working documents rather than copying the details in to summary books as was the case in previous census years.

The records contain details about the lives of many important British historical figures, such as David Lloyd George, the contemporary Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and 'Bloomsbury Set' author Virginia Woolf. The launch of the records also creates a starting point for people to trace their own family tree by looking up their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who were alive in the year 1911.

'Fertility Census'
The 1911 census was the first to ask questions relating to fertility in marriage. Married women were asked to state how long they had been married and how many children had been born from that marriage. The census also provides a fascinating snapshot of the population of the country just a few years before a whole generation of young men perished in the Great War of 1914-1918.

How to use the 1911 Census records

* Log on to www.1911census.co.uk and register for free
* Search for an ancestor in 1911 by entering their name
* If the name is common you can enter their approximate year of birth, which will help to narrow down the results
* Search for an address to look up the history of your house or an ancestor's address in 1911 (this function will be available in summer 2009)
* Pay as you go to view each record. You will be charged 10 credits per transcript and 30 credits for each original household page. Visitors to the website can buy 60 credits for £6.95.
* Findmypast.com vouchers will also be valid on 1911census.co.uk. Vouchers can be purchased from The National Archives bookshop and redeemed on findmypast.com. Credits can then be spent on both findmypast.com and 1911census.co.uk.
* For more information about using the 1911 census for family history research, 'Census: The Expert Guide' by Peter Christian and David Annal is available from The National Archives online bookshop at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk


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I tried to find my g-grandparents yesterday Robert & Clara ALLEN and at first could not find them, I tried various computations and eventually I just put in C Allen, with Clara's year of birth and town where she was born, and up the family came under MILITARY - unfortunately you can't look at the Military pages yet, so all I know is that he was stationed at Chatham. Think outside the box when it comes to searching. Good Luck, and I hope that Legacy gets a field for the 1911 Census in the Source writer ASAP

The release of the 1911 census is a big breakthrough for UK research BUT (there is always a but)...

1. Searching - whilst searching is reltively fast and easy, if more than one record for a person, in the same area, is returned there is nothing shown to help you distinguish between the individuals. For example - if you search for John SMITH in Birmingham and get, say, 10 returns for the person all born in the same year - the ONLY way to find out which may be your John SMITH is to view the transcripts for each entry - at a cost of 10 credits each!. Then, if you want the actual image, you have to pay ANOTHER 30 credits.

2. Credits paid for transcripts are not offset against image costs so, if you use the scenario above, an image could end up costing you 40 credits each (US 6.75 each)

3. Problems reported during their 'beta testing' immediately before Christmas have not been addressed and many of the problems remain in place (why run the beta test then?) This includes transcription errors returning erroneous data (at 30 credit costs each time)

4. Support - a generic email is generated whenever an issue is raised - be it problem with the site, transcription errors or faulty or missing images. When the promised 2 day turnaround happens (more like 5-7 days at present) all you receive is a 'The problem has been resolved' wth no indication of WHAT problem has been resolved. Some incidents, reported by their own system' give you THREE incident emails and associated (different) incident numebrs. It would be hoped they managed to at least fix this before too long otherwise the same problems are going to be reported over and over and over and over....

5. Image downloads are reasonably fast - for the first half of the image - and then slow to a crawl. This also happened during the beta testing so it appears it will continue this way. Not a major issue, but could be a problem as the site becomes more popular.

6. Not all counties are yet available - basically the UK has been divided into South and NOrth - Southern counties are available whilst the northern ones are still being released - no indication of when all counties will be available.

The 1911 Census sites blog ( http://blog.1911census.co.uk/ ) at least gives some indication of what is going on - but don;t expect too much in the way of feedback or responses to individual problems. It would appear that the release has been rushed based purely on their 'beta testing' period - and the release still has all the bugs and warts of their test site.

I am very familiar with searching of this type of database. Unfortunately, the search engine used for this site is very poor. Records are not found if too much information is input and often people can only be found by roundabout searching.

Also, not enough details are given to allow the selection of the correct person. This will mean that for some records it will cost a lot of money paying to see incorrect records before the correct one is found.
I wonder if this is what the site owners
are hoping for! Please can we have a
month by month subscription or similar.

A number of people in my tree are not found in a name search, but can be found from the street address. This suggests poor transcription and/or poor indexing.

Lets hope a decent ancestry site takes over these records and improves the indexing.

No, it's not a great search engine, and some features (like wildcard searches) don't seem to be working at all yet. I've got the best results by putting in the absolute minimum of information for an individual & using the fields for names of other household members, which can drastically reduce the number of results.

On the whole, though I've found quite a few of the people I've been looking for, I think it would have been better to delay the release until all the information was there, and all the search features were working properly. Very expensive to use as well without a subscription option.

I got the record for my grandmother and her parents and sister on my first session. The best trick is to search for each member of the household until you have confirmed the correct district and county by triangulation before spending your money. Even fairly distinct names turned up duplicate entries with equivalent birth years at opposite ends of the country. Comparing family group members helped pinpoint the correct record. You can add the sibling/parent/child name at the bottom of the search from, or just do successive searches for each member.

I started using birth years but found the + or - 2 years to be too restrictive when all I have is a "bef 1847," so I confirmed the searches without birth years. I banged on it for two hours straight without generating any errors, so it seems pretty solid.

I found a LOT of possible relatives, but want to try tagging them for location in 1901 on Ancestry before buying more images. My family group data from previous Ancestry sessions in the 1841-1901 censuses was essential in guiding me to the correct records in the 1911 site.

The full 1911 census is legally not available until January 2012. Could it be that I am cynical, or could it be that this is a way to make a bit of money before then, with the expectation that after 2012 people will perform another search to find the missing information, and part with a bit more money?

the information on the 1911 census is very comprehensive and very useful, particularly in helping fill gaps between the 1901 and 1911 where birth information is not available.

My only complaint is the extortionate cost, which prohibits my use, I was hoping that at least it would be available on a yearly subscription. But the best payment option equates to £2.40 per census.

You can only search by Surname or street. Very frustrating when the surname they have transcribed is wrong and you have wasted 30 credits looking. There must be some means of compensation for that!!!!!!

Over at the 1911 census blog, they have an article explaining the pricing. They also mention that the census, in the future, will be available at findmypast.co.uk as part of a flat subscription fee. Read the article at http://blog.1911census.co.uk/2009/01/pricing-and-future-subscription-options/.

If you can accurately and uniquely identify the record you want from the index then this works pretty well. I quite like it. Unfortunately with an incomplete service (including none - NONE - of Wales) there will always be the questions about completeness and it is such gaps which undermine confidence. And it is an expensive way of finding "it was actually the other candidate record I wanted to see!" So please give some thought to the very significant costs for those who have to run genuine searches and trawls to get to the right records, and please provide clearer projections as to when the whole census will actually be available.

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