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
- 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.
Here is the press release from Findmypast.com:
1911 CENSUS GOES ONLINE
* 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."
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.
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