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Kimberly Powell

1911 UK Census Now Online

By January 13, 2009

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Redemption Burton and family in the1911 UK Census. Image is Crown copyright RG14/09484 reproduced courtesy of The National Archives.36 million people living in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man 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 online. This is three years earlier than the originally scheduled release date of 2012 - a great boon for family historians!

The new 1911 census site offers transcribed text versions, as well as high quality digitized images of the original handwritten census returns - fully searchable by name or address. Searching is free, but transcripts and images can only be viewed by purchasing credits. I was glad to see that credits purchased on FindMyPast.com can be used for the 1911 Census site as well, but was disappointed that my annual FindMyPast subscription package doesn't appear to apply. Paying by the credit could make viewing a single census image (which requires 30 credits) cost as much as 3.48, which is just a little over $5 U.S. dollars. That can get pretty pricey in a hurry unless you know exactly where to find the individual you're looking for.

What you'll find: The 1911 UK census is the most detailed census available for genealogists to date. What's most interesting about it is that it is the first for which the original census schedules have been preserved - schedules written in our ancestor's own hand! The 1911 census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in a household, as well as their relationship to the head of household. For married women, there are also questions on how long they've been married and how many children were born from that marriage. I was looking this morning at the census record for my father-in-law's great-grandmother, Charity (Pascoe) Powell which listed her 51 years of marriage and 5 children, although this information had a line stricken through it - likely because she was a widow and no longer married.

What you won't find: In order to release the 1911 UK census early, details relating to an individual's infirmity as listed in the census (e.g. deaf, dumb, blind, lunatic, etc.) have been obscured and will not be available for viewing until January 2012. Also, while nearly 80% of the English records are available at launch, 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 in the coming months.

Suffragettes boycotted the 1911 UK Census - no vote, no census. Image provided courtesy of The National Archives.The 1911 census also provides an interesting look at life in 1911 - especially the protests surrounding the women's right to vote. Many suffragettes boycotted the 1911 census under the campaign "No vote, No census." One census record reads:

"Sorry that I cannot conscienciously give the information - Qualified for Citizenship, except for being a Woman, the Authorities deny my this priviledge while not scrupling to impose tasks & burdens upon me - I am therefore logical & justified, in common with many others, in refusing the information -

Should the Conciliation Bill pass the House of Commons this Session, I will with pleasure give the required information at any later date - N. M. Capron"

Unfortunately, Ms. Capron and the other women of England did not win their battle for equal rights that year, or for many years to come.

Another census schedule even more obviously demonstrates the fired up passions of English women at the time, stating only "No persons here, only women!"

Check out the 1911 Census online for yourself at www.1911census.co.uk.

January 14, 2009 at 1:58 pm
(1) Pat says:

Let us remember that only 80% of the 1911 UK census records which are the responsibility of The National Archive are available so far.
We haven’t had any notice about Scotland yet. When you add Scotland in, the records available are less than 80%.

January 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm
(2) David says:

My understanding from the marketing is that later this year we shall able to purchase a subscription that would allow access through findmypast.com. I hope that is the case, as I am doing descendancy research from 6th great grandparents, and a quick calculation tells me that it would cost well in excess of 2000 to view all the families in the UK that I now have in my file.

January 23, 2009 at 9:51 am
(3) Diana says:

If you go to the National Archives at Kew the Census is free to search, but you can only book a reader for an hour at a time. Photocopies of each page cost 20p. Even if you don’t live near London it might work out cheaper to visit once you’ve identified the people you want to find using the free search facility.

January 30, 2009 at 7:15 am
(4) Michael says:

There are just too many greedy organisations now trying to cash in on peoples family histories.
A pox on them all!

February 22, 2009 at 8:37 pm
(5) Adele says:

I for one am incredibly happy that this census has been released early…even if I have to pay to see some the transcripts. It has helped solve a few problems already!

March 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm
(6) Robert says:

Compared with the pay-as-you-go Ancestry.co.uk charges (with which I have found quite a lot of information) the charges levied by the 1911census setup are excessive…. They should levy a truly nominal search charge (which includes family members & birth location info) to reduce the search field before we are required to pay around 3.50 for copies of documents.

July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm
(7) John Smith says:

For a service which is supposed to be free, findmypast really has a cheek to charge for it.
Why charge for the 1911 census when all the others are “free”. Also, just how much is the government getting from it. It could just be another stealth tax. So much for “freedom of information”. Where is it?

August 5, 2009 at 7:41 pm
(8) Julie says:

Why are all the other census records free to look at and why do we have to pay to see this one ??? I am in Australia so it’s the only way I can find out further info on my family tree but I am SO disappointed with the outrageous fees.

October 28, 2009 at 4:14 am
(9) Grant says:

I have no problem with the fee! Why should the UK taxpayer pay for the services we use. We are all from around the world, and I see no reason why it should be free. The cost of puting this up on the web must have been large, let them recoup their costs at least.

September 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm
(10) Niall says:

The 1901 and 1911 census returns for all of Ireland have been made available by the Irish government. Access is completely free of charge to users at:

March 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm
(11) Sid says:

I don’t mind paying a fee, but please keep it reasonable!! More can be made by charging a lesser fee than by charging too much, do the math!!

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