Looking at the 1911 UK Census

It was a Sunday evening on April 2, 1911 that the official census was done throughout England, Wales, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands within the United Kingdom. Normally the records are not released for 100 years. The UK National Archives choose to release the 1911 censuses early, by 2009. Now having the information as of April 1911 on some 36 million people of the United Kingdom, family researchers have a new and important wealth of information.

What researchers especially like about the 1911 census is that the information provided was written in by the actual ancestors. This way there was less chance for the enumerator making a mistake on the person’s name spelling, age or occupation. All the standard questions were answered such as names, place of birth, marital status, occupation, years married, number of children, any servants and nationality. Individuals were counted in all households as well as workhouses, hospitals, prisons and military bases in the UK and overseas. The census takers even attempted to count the homeless.

The most interesting aspect of the UK 1911 census was the large boycott and protest waged by many women trying to gain the right to vote in 1911. They felt if they couldn’t vote they didn’t need to be counted on the census. Some woman placed a statement of such with the written census while others avoided the census takers, so they were not counted.

The best online source for viewing the 1911 UK census is with 1911census.co.uk (http://www.1911census.co.uk/ ). Researchers are able to search free the site. If a record is located, you register with the site, purchase so many ‘credits’ with which to obtain a copy of that census record. The credit rates are about 6.95 English Pounds equal $9.50 in US dollars which will purchase 60 credits. The transcript of a census page run 10 credits. An original page with the ancestor’s own writing is 30 credits. That is about $5.00 a page. The larger package of credits purchased at one time the less expensive each credit becomes. For the schedules of the households the reference number is RG14.

If you are not completely familiar with an ancestor’s name spelling the ‘wildcard’ feature can be used. Here in the search the first letter of a name is placed in the search box. If not sure of a given name, just place the surname. Also a range of dates, such as a birth date between 1888 and 1892 is allowed in the search.

You might find a long list in the search of individuals with similar names. Use the age, birth year and make note of the district they live in. Compare that with other members in the household by researching their names. By finding the known family members living in the same location helps reassure you that the correct ancestor is located.

Two samples show the original 1911 census completed by my great grandfather, George William Kershaw. Note the far right section is blanked out on all the originals. This is where information was placed about any infirmities of individuals such as blindness, being a lunatic or deafness. A transcript of the 1911 census for my grandfather, Henry Kershaw also shows my father, Harry, age five.

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