2021 census family history project

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04 March 2021
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Our new family history project shows you how to use your 2021 census information to create a ‘time capsule’ for your family and your descendants.

On 21 March 2021, people across England and Wales will complete a census form giving details including the name, age and occupation of each person (the Scotland census will follow in 2022 and the Northern Ireland census is currently underway). 

Family Tree’s recent RootsTech breakfast Zoom event was the inspiration for the project, as we chatted about different ways in which family historians can use the 2021 census as inspiration for their family tree research. Whilst gathering the information you need for the census form, why not take things a step further and snapshot your family at this moment in time through a combination of words, images and even video.

1. Photograph your family members and home

A photo of your home and its inhabitants makes a nice souvenir of what life was like in 2021. If you live on your own or don't live with family, once lockdown is over why not take a photo of yourself with the family or friends who mean the most to you? We all know that families come in many different guises and are not always blood relatives...

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2. Go into more detail than you can on the official census form 

Using the questions you answer on your 2021 census form as inspiration, take things a step further. For example, explain why each of the names in the family was chosen, what your occupation actually involves, the different rooms in your house and how you use them, what outdoor space you have available, etc.

3. Keep your own copy of the form so you don’t have to wait 100 years to see it again

Census forms are subject to a 100-year privacy rule, meaning that future generations won’t be able to access this census data until 2121. Take a photocopy, screenshot or scan of your census form and keep it with the rest of your paper and/or digital family history records.

4. What do you wish you could ask your ancestors?

Are there questions you’d love to ask your ancestors? Why they moved to a particular town? How they came to enter the workhouse? Why they cut one relative out of their will but left another in? Ask yourself and answer some pertinent questions relating to your family history – your descendants will thank you!

Want to explore more about the census? Check out our census chart, covering 1841-1921.