Thursday, 3 April 2014

A-Z Challenge 2014: C is for Census

In this country (UK) the census was taken every 10 years from 1801 (some earlier censuses do exist, but they are rare).

The census is an excellent genealogical tool for tracking your ancestors as well as tracing them.  Far from being the names-dates-places you find in the births, marriages, and death civil registers, it gives you a
www.a-to-zchallenge.com
snapshot of the entire family.  How many children were there? Where were they born? Where was the family living at the time of the census? Who were the neighbours? and so on.

You can find out what sort of person they were.  Was your ancestor a wealthy farmer with 400 acres of land and many employees?  Or was he a pauper in the local workhouse?  Was Great-Grandma one of many servants in an aristocrat's large house, or was she a washerwoman living in the main street of a rural village?

Suddenly, they leap out of the page at you.  No longer are they just an entry in your home genealogy program.  No longer are they just a set of letters and numbers.  These were real people.

6 comments:

  1. I have looked up the census for my dad's family as he was born in 1913(he was 51 when i was born) and my grandmother died in 1919 after giving birth (child died as well). I found out from the census that she had another child around 1907 or so but don't know much else and presume the child died very young. I also found out that her name has been written in many different ways. Glad for your pointers by the way:)

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  2. It's so exciting to find new information, isn't it? Best wishes for your future research on this child. Thanks for stopping by! (and thanks for the gladness, too)

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  3. Ros - I do like your succinct style that brings family history records to life. I agree with you, census returns can take you in so many directions with research - naming patterns, occupations, child employment, family compositions, There is so much fascinating information in them.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment, ScotSue! I am a great believer in making my posts VERY short, so people can read 'em quickly (especially during the A-Z Challenge, when you only have a certain amount of time to blog-hop).

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Ros,

    Yes, censuses are fascinating documents. I wonder if errors creep into them though. For example, when we had our last census we had a certain number of days in which to fill in the papers. I filled in most of the info but left some areas for my husband. The man returned to pick up the papers and I gave them to him, not realising my husband hadn't done his bit of filling in. Some details were missing! I guess what is in our census papers is correct, just not the complete story.

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    1. Oh, good grief! Reminds me of the 2001 census, when people were encouraged to put down 'Jedi' as their religion. I think it was something like 400,000 did so in the UK...

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete

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