Tips from the Pros: Take a Break from Census Research and Read About It, by Sherry Irvine, CG, FSA Scot

British Census.bmpThere must be dozens of websites offering British Isles census data in amounts large and small. You can also find a proliferation of text about censuses online. For me it is a treat to get away from the computer, relax in a comfortable chair, and read about records and research.

This is what I suggest you do. Earlier this year Ancestry published Finding Answers in British Isles Census Records, by Echo King. It is an easy read and an informative one.

The book follows a logical sequence starting with a chapter that tell the story of the British census. It’s an interesting one, from origins of the idea in the 1700s to the first census in 1801, and the change to nominal records forty years later. It was quite an undertaking, collecting so much information and publishing results very quickly, all without any automation to speed the process. Then, several chapters guide you through access, indexes, searching census copies on the Web and on microfilm, interpretation, and the details of individual enumerations. The seven nominal censuses open to public scrutiny are reviewed one by one, 1841, 1851, and through to the most recent available, 1901.

Your research will improve if you read this book. Census work becomes even more fascinating when you know the story behind the records, understand the questions your ancestors had to answer, and realize the way mistakes occurred then and now.

If your research in England, Wales, or Scotland has bogged down, take a break. Since you probably don’t like reading a lot of text on your computer screen, I suggest get away from it and read something else. There is nothing like a break from research to help you spot hidden clues, and if that break expands what you know about the records, so much the better.

AWJ Editor’s Note: You can buy Finding Answers in British Isles Census Records, by Echo King and other Ancestry publications at 15% off in the Ancestry Store.

3 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Take a Break from Census Research and Read About It, by Sherry Irvine, CG, FSA Scot

  1. Hello,
    Thanks for the great tip and information. Do you have any tips for Ireland? All I know is my great grandfather’s name, that he was catholic, and have no idea where in Ireland he resided before coming to Glasgow, Scotland. My family is almost certain it was Northern Ireland somewhere. I love to read and yes for me to relax with a good book can’t be beat. Just my opinion. I have ordered “Finding Answers in BI Census Records.” Thanks again.
    Irene Britz

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