A census has been taken every ten years since 1801 [except for 1941] but information relating to individuals is not published until one hundred years have elapsed, to preserve confidentiality. The information from the individual forms filled in by the householder was transferred to sheets by the enumerators and it is these enumerators' sheets that are published. The National Archives has the census for the whole country and has a website that can be used to search the 1901 census and order copies.
Most local studies libraries and archive offices will have the 1841 to 1901 census for their own area [the 1841 census includes less detailed information than the later ones and is therefore less useful]. It will generally be on microfilm or fiche and it may be necessary to book a reader before you visit. It is usually possible to either take copies or order them.
The National Archive's [PRO] education site, The Learning Curve, includes an excellent section called Focus on the Census with information and activities for students.
You can search the census on the Ancestry website. There is a charge but some local authorities have arranged free access for teachers via local libraries.
The 2011 Census Project website gives teachers free access to the 1911 census for 6 months (March - September 2011) plus links to teaching activities and resources.
Ideas for use
- To find out about the people who lived in a particular property over a period of time.
- To investigate the people who lived in a house/street/village. The census can tell you about their occupations, where they were born, how big their families were and if they kept servants.