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This database includes householders’ forms from the 1911 Census of England. The British government took its first national census in 1801, and a census has been taken every ten years since, except in 1941, during World War II. The first genealogically useful census took place in 1841, when names were recorded.
What is in the Records
The 1911 Census of England and Wales was taken on the night of Sunday, 2 April 1911. Prior to that day, householders were left a form requesting the following information be provided for every person staying at the house on the night of 2 April:
- relationship to head of family
- age at last birthday
- marriage details (including number of children)
- occupation (for people age 10 and over)
- infirmity (deaf, blind, lunatic, etc.; infirmity information will not be available until 2012 for privacy reasons)
- postal address
- military rank and unit
Because responses were to reflect an individual's status as of 2 April 1911, people who were traveling or living abroad were enumerated at the location where they spent census night. Enumerators also provided forms to institutions such as hospitals, prisons, and workhouses. Men on Royal Navy and merchant marine vessels were counted, as were the families of military personnel stationed overseas. Census takers even tried to approximate the homeless population.
Unusual Features of the 1911 Census
Information requests new to the 1911 census were the ‘fertility census’ and occupational questions. Fertility questions included how long a present marriage had lasted, the number of children born alive to the present marriage (including children no longer living in the household), and number of children who had died. Questions about employment were meant to give the government a general idea of which industries were in decline and which were growing; however, many people provided far more information than was needed, recording the name and sometimes address of their employer in addition to the industry that employed them. The added data from these questions can be immensely helpful to genealogical researchers by providing an entire family count, a number of children both living and deceased, names of stepchildren under other marriages, and facts about the culture and living conditions of their ancestor.
Another unusual feature of the 1911 census is the absence of some women’s names. In 1911, women had not yet been given the right to vote in England. As part of the campaign for women’s suffrage, many suffragettes protested by refusing to be counted in the 1911 census. They carried out their protest in two ways: either the woman (or her husband) did not fill out the census form, writing only her complaint on it, or she stayed away from the house the entire night of the census taking. In both cases details on women of these households will be missing from the records. The exact number who boycotted the census is not known, but it has been estimated at several thousand.
After enumerators collected the householders’ forms, they copied the information into enumerator’s books, which were sent to London. For censuses prior to 1911, the householders’ forms were destroyed, and the enumerator’s books are all that survive. However, in 1911, for the first time the actual householders’ forms—typically in their own handwriting—were preserved as well. These are the records contained in this database. They may occasionally include details that were not asked for and would not have been carried over into the enumerators’ books, such as names of children who had died or members of the family who were away on census night.