25 February 2013
Helen Tovey, Family Tree’s editor, explores one of family history's most valuable resources - the census. Dis
The census truly is a rewarding historical record for family historians to search. The names, dates, ages, occupations, birthplaces and addresses for your ancestors can all be discovered in one fell swoop by finding a forebear in the census. What’s more, you’re likely to find not just an individual ancestor, but an entire family, all at once.
And now that we have so many of the decennial censuses searchable online for England, Wales and Scotland, we can gain an even greater feel for our family in the past. Working back through the census records, we can see a snapshot of our ancestors’ details every 10 years - in 1911, 1901, 1891, etc back to 1841.
We can begin to understand their life experiences. Perhaps the rise or fall in their fortunes, or the passing of time, as babies are born, and sadly family members come to the end of their lives. Maybe we can detect the mark of adventure and opportunity, as people up sticks in search of better jobs - and will find family members as lodgers, servants, or soldiers away from home - or, less fortunately, incarcerated in the workhouse or prison.
There are so many family history stories to be told... many intriguing and surprising, and all a revelation about your ancestors. Make the most of this feast of a family history source, with professional family historian Roy Stockdill’s ultimate census guide in the March issue of Family Tree.
You can find famous connections in the census too...
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