1911 census update for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Recently The National Archives (TNA) announced their partner for the digitalisation of the 1911 census (England and Wales). This created the ideal opportunity of giving an update on the status of the 1911 census for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These were all undertaken on the same night - 2 April 1911
England and Wales
On 11 April The National Archives (TNA) announced that Scotland Online would partner the UK government's official archive in the forthcoming project to put the 1911 census for England and Wales online.
Scotland Online was established in 1995, and is one of the UK's leading Internet business solutions providers. In 2002, in partnership with the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), Scotland Online established what is now one of the world's leading genealogy websites ScotlandsPeople www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.
The 1911 census (document references RG14 and RG78) is huge - it currently occupies 2 kilometres of shelving at The National Archives. Comprising over eight million householder schedules and a further 38,000 enumerators' summary books, it details information relating to approximately 35 million people then living in England and Wales.
Once digitised the census will take up an equally large ½ a petabyte of computer memory or, physically, 800 data tapes. The digital scanning alone in preparation for digitization will create 18 million images - 14 times the number of images created in advance of the 1901 census being launched online in 2002. The Census will not be made available in microform nor will public access be allowed to the original returns.
From 2009 there will be a phased release of the information in the 1911 census starting with the major conurbations. This will include images and transcription data, but with sensitive data redacted in line with the Information Commissioner's recent ruling. From 3 January 2012 the public will have full access to the entire 1911 census, including the information not accessible in 2009. Researchers anywhere in the world will be able to search across the fields of the census by name, address or The National Archives reference, and download high-resolution digital images.
Freedom of Information
A successful challenge under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act has resulted in that from January 2007 The National Archives (TNA) has been providing an address search service on the 1911 census. Researchers are now able to pay for searches in the census from the TNA paid research service at a cost of £45 per address search. Personally sensitive information (eg Infirmity column) will be redacted (i.e. blacked out) from the census information given to the recipient. Please note that until the census is fully digitised searches can only be made using addresses and not surnames, and applications for searches must be made using the special online census search request forms available on TNA's web site. Full details on this plus the application form are available from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/1911census/?homepage=news
10 Downing Street is working in partnership with the non-partisan charitable project mySociety who launched an e-petitions system in November 2006 to provide a service to allow citizens, charities and campaign groups to set up petitions hosted on the Downing Street website, enabling anyone to address and deliver a petition directly to the Prime Minister. Several months ago an e-petition was launched to reduce the classified period for census data from 100 years to 70 years ie 1911, 1921 and 1931 census. It was signed by 23,601 people but was not successful, full details on the reasons given for this can be found at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/CensusInfoFreed/
As a family history researcher it is easy to forget the actual reasons for undertaking the census - which was to gather statistical information. The statistical reports from the 1801 to 1931 Censuses are available via the Online Historical Population Reports (OHPR) collection www.histpop.org/ohpr/servlet The collection goes far beyond the basic population reports with a wealth of textual and statistical material which provide an in-depth view of the economy, society (through births, deaths and marriages) and medicine during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The 200,000 pages of census and registration material for the British Isles are supported by numerous ancillary documents from The National Archives, critical essays and transcriptions of important legislation which provide an aid to understanding the context, content and creation of the collection.
No other information is available regarding the 1911 census for Scotland other than, in line with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, the 1911 census will be available in Spring 2011, once the 100-year closure period has elapsed. For updates etc on this see www.gro-scotland.gov.uk or for more information about Scottish censuses online visit www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
An agreement to digitalize the 1901 and 1911 census for Ireland was signed in December 2005 between the National Archives of Ireland and Library and Archives Canada. The project has been divided into sections, the first being County Dublin for 1911 which it is hoped will be available online by the end of 2007. It is hoped that the entire project will be completed over the next 3 years.
The digitization of the microfilms is nearly all completed, and work is ongoing to link the images to the appropriate geographic descriptions. In addition to the census research tool, the National Archives of Ireland is also creating a variety of essays with complimentary digitized photographs to better contextualize Dublin and Ireland as a whole in 1911 and 1901. There are 1209 reels of microfilm for 1901 and 3281 for 1911 - films of the actual householders returns. The backs of the householder returns were filmed for 1911 but not for 1901. The project is commencing with 1911 as the quality of the films is better in 19911 than 1901.
All material will be accessible free of charge via the National Archives of Ireland website: www.nationalarchives.ie .
Catriona Crowe, Senior Archivist, at the National Archives of Ireland will be a speaking on 'Irish Census Records Online' on Saturday 5 May at the Who Do You Think You Are - Live event for more details visit www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.co.uk