Posted by on 30 March 2011 in Company News, General, Record Collections

Hopefully you remembered to complete your census form on Sunday? The 2011 Census dominated the headlines over the weekend – apparently over one million households completed their returns online, showing just how much life has changed over the past century.

We were hoping to have some news of our own to share with you – a release date for the first section of the 1911 Census on our site. If you’ve been following our monthly updates, you’ll know that this stage will include the scanned images of all the census pages for the whole country. We’ll then continue working to add indexes for these images over the course of the year.

The processing of images continues and is proceeding well. However, as we’ve said before it’s a huge undertaking and at the moment we don’t yet know exactly when they’ll be ready. So rather than guess a date and then frustrate you by having to move it, we’ll update you as soon as we know for sure.

Please keep checking this blog as we’ll bring you any news as soon as we have it. In the meantime, take a look at some of the interesting census-themed blog posts from last week.


Graham Whibley 

What happens to the people who sent there returns as soon as they received them and not on the 27th?

30 March 2011 at 12:08 pm
Jan Saunders 

Thanks for the update, Ancestry – but would it not be possible to put the images you have scanned on the website once a week or something, so we can start browsing through them, rather than have to wait for them all to be scanned?

30 March 2011 at 7:17 pm
Sue Jones 

What has the first comment got to do with the 1911 census that was taken on 2nd April 1911?

30 March 2011 at 9:10 pm
Hilary Gunn 

I’ve asked that question before jan and it didn’t get a response then, it’ll be interesting to see if they say anything this time!

31 March 2011 at 9:44 am
Hilary Gunn 

There you go Jan, I left it a full day and there’s been no response from Ancestry again to what I think is a very reasonable question. If there are technical reasons why it can’t be done fair enough,but an explanantion would save an awful lot of bad feeling.

1 April 2011 at 8:42 am
Susan Moncur 

Thank you for your question Jan and Hilary. The reason we haven’t been able to make the images available in stages is that they weren’t divided into neat sections. To make it possible for you to browse them by place, we need to sort through them and organise them correctly. With 35 million records, you can imagine that this is a very time consuming process, but we are now making good progress.

1 April 2011 at 10:02 am
barrie collins 

May I ask who exactly is responsible for the transcription of the 1911 census? Looking at the ‘summary books’ for addresses in my home town, I fear for researchers from other areas. It is, I’m sorry to say, a terrible mess. Names have been drawn from what is part of the address,and vice -versa. E.G. ‘St Walburga’s School’ becomes ‘St Walburga’ Miss Skoor!

1 April 2011 at 3:26 pm

I have to say my local index was fine and very interesting to my Mum and Dad. But to do any real work I need the complete pages. So I’m a bit stalled at the moment. However I have asked this before are there index pages for the older census? I found walking from one end of a village to the other has turned up poorly trascribed familys. It takes a long time on the full census so the index would be great to find suspects and then jump straight to the page.

1 April 2011 at 8:45 pm
Darren Vidler 

Hi There,
I’ve had some trouble with several family members
i can’t find on the 1911 census, they can’t all have been away or refused and they are members who
were still around. One relative i found only because i checked the name and address on the 1901
census. This was on the 1911 Census site where he’d
been lodging in 1901
There has also been a number of errors on here on
other census transcriptions
so please try to get it right as it’s very frustrating for the rest of us when it’s wrong

1 April 2011 at 10:41 pm
phil horton 

Given the self-acclaimed title that Ancestry has “the world’s largest online family history resource”, why is it that many other sites now have the 1911 census available, but those who have opted for & paid their subscription to Ancestry are STILL waiting, with no date even to look forward to?
Don’t think I’ll be renewing my subscription!

2 April 2011 at 12:21 am

I would appreciate just a very approximate idea as to when you hope to have the 1911 census records available to us. If you would let us know if it is likely to be over six months away I could then subscribe to another site for the 1911 census only. I don’t want to subscribe to this if we are only weeks away from your issue of the census

2 April 2011 at 7:15 am
Clare Wenger 

First, I would like to agree vehemently with Maureen and Phil above.

Second, am I the only one who has found difficulty with the legibility of the 1911 pages?

2 April 2011 at 9:16 am
Hilary Gunn 

Thank you for replying at least, although it does seem a bit of a non answer!
I transcribe records for free reg and they aren’t nicely organised either but they are put online as they’re transcribed and no one has complained. I think we’d accept patchy appearances and come back later; as it is you just seem to be dangling carrots to keep us subscribing.

2 April 2011 at 12:26 pm

I am in total agreement with Phil Horton and Maureen. As they so rightly point out other sites have managed to get the 1911 census up for their customers so why not ancestry? My subs are due in May and I’m reluctant to renew.

2 April 2011 at 1:15 pm
Arthur Whitehead 

A quarter of 2011 has passed and Ancestry UK is still unable to get the 1911 census on line or give a date when it will be available. Ancestry UK claim to be the number one site but other sites are way ahead. As I have foolishly paid for the year I guess I am stuck with what I have. As the saying goes,”should have gone to specsavers”, if you get my meaning.

2 April 2011 at 5:46 pm
Tim Powell 

I also agree with all of the above. I have stuck with Ancestry for the last two years but perhaps it is time for a move as my annual subscription is due this month. Not being familiar with the other sites has anyone got any recommendations?

2 April 2011 at 5:59 pm
Hilary Gunn 

Seems to be a common theme emerging here Ancestry! As soon as my subs run out I’m off to Find My Past – they seem to have won the battle between you – with parish records as well as 1911.

3 April 2011 at 11:32 am
Gill Rossini 

Ancestry, Find My Past and the other pay to view websites are commercial organizations, and we are all free to “shop” where and how we wish to as we research our family history. Presumably, the reason that Ancestry is slow to produce the 1911 is because initially they were outbid by FMP – that’s just the way it goes sometimes. You can always buy credits to view it on FMP, and in some areas it is available free in public libraries. I don’t agree that FMP is out-doing Ancestry for sheer volume of records online, overall Ancestry has the edge with resources such as the National Probate Index. I am not an apologist for Ancestry, and indeed I am a reluctant subscriber as I don’t really like their near monopoly in our genealogical world; however as a professional family history lecturer (and have been for 23 years) I don’t think that right now, Ancestry can be outdone. Be patient – it is a virtue all genealogists have in abundance, and bear in mind that your ancestors aren’t going to run away – they will be right there waiting for you in the 1911 whenever you go to find them.

3 April 2011 at 12:35 pm
June Hope 

I renewed my subscription on the understanding that the 1922 stuff would be available with 2/3 months into 2011, well here we are in month 4 and not a lot of info yet!
Frustrating isn’t it!

3 April 2011 at 8:46 pm
Hilary Gunn 

I’ve no argument with commercial organisations making a profit Gill and I know the background to Ancestry, FMP and Bright Solid, what irritated me and many others was the publicity from Ancestry which implied a quick release of 1911 after they acquired it and even now after four months there is still not even an approximate date.
I still believe a staged release would have saved a lot of aggro as would honesty about a likely date, after all they have had plenty of experience and know how long things take.

3 April 2011 at 10:23 pm
Jennifer Sanderson 

I renewed my subscription in Jan and am hoping that we can soon get the 1911. I find the summary not very helpful and was a waist of time. Other sites have already done it so why doesn’t Ancestry buy the rights off them as its already been done. A staged release would be at least something.

4 April 2011 at 10:24 am
Neil Axe 

What I don’t understand is why Ancestry seem totally unable to either (i) give us a timescale of when release is likely or (ii)release in stages. It is not as if this is the 1st census they have dealt with, somehow the 7 other UK censuses 1841-1901 have all been issued, and many American and other censuses too.

I would have thought that even if the original records are totally jumbled up, releasing the records in monthly batches as and when they become available would be a better approach, with a note saying that the records are incomplete at this stage and that more will be released soon. Even now if you check Ancestry carefully certain parishes of the old British censuses are known to be missing or to otherwise have problems re completeness.

It seems strange that we are now 3 months into 2011 and yet no timescale has been given to us. Someone at ancestry must have an idea of the timescales involved – it’s not as if this is the first time they have transcribed on this sort of scale. It’s not a hard calculation. The number of transcribers, the number of records done per working day and the total number of records to be transcribed are all known quantities.

4 April 2011 at 6:24 pm
Hilary Gunn 

I’ve just had an e mail from genes reunited and until 11 apr you can have a months subscription to 1911 for £19. Not bad value if you can find everything you want in that time.

5 April 2011 at 11:01 am
David Blair 

I feel hard done by if the English and Welsh 1911 Census records are taking so long to get on line?..What about the Scottish 1911 records that came out at 11am today (5th April 2011)If Scotland’s People web site has them live now, why oh why do you lot take sooooo long to get things moving???? Are we talking a year to get them on line??? I even pay for this service!!! lol….. I must say I’m dissapointed.

5 April 2011 at 2:32 pm
Dot Kirby 

I renewed my subs and really feel ive been conned i am very disappointed the the 1911 census has not been released and they cant tell us when it will be is it worth cancelling and renewing later.

5 April 2011 at 4:37 pm
Judy King 

I’m very disappointed at the lack of information on when the 1911 Census will appear on ancestry. My subscription is up for renewal, but I shall let it lapse for a few months and wait to see when 1911 C is reported available. If we all threatened to do this – and spent the summer out-of-doors instead of glued to our screens – ancestry might have the good grace to give us some real information ! Of course it is a huge job, but that shouldn’t stop them communicating properly with their customers. OR they could offer a free extension to the annual sub to keep existing customers and to make up for the poor service.

5 April 2011 at 6:43 pm

I agree with all the above comments, If other site can do it why are you taking so long You will loose your loyal customers!! Also you need to adjust the upload to accept PDF as the Scotland census record are in that format so cannot be uploaded onto this site!!!

5 April 2011 at 7:29 pm

Am I right in saying that ancestry do not have the rights for the 1911 Scottish Census? In the update above it states the “whole country” but does this mean England or United Kingdom? Any help would be much appreciaed.

5 April 2011 at 7:44 pm
john smith 

Susan Moncur wrote:-

“Thank you for your question Jan and Hilary. The reason we haven’t been able to make the images available in stages is that they weren’t divided into neat sections. To make it possible for you to browse them by place, we need to sort through them and organise them correctly. With 35 million records, you can imagine that this is a very time consuming process, but we are now making good progress.”

From this reply it would seem that the census returns weren’t even supplied in County batches. For if they were then the option to upload the census images on a County by County basis could have been undertaken,in terms of customer relations, hopefully the members of the Ancestry team will be brave enough to acknowledge the mistake with hindsight with regard of not having released the Census faster and in a partial form.

Also as Neil Axe (4 April 2011 at 6:24 pm) points out it is a “simple calculation” to estimate the completion time, and it would be extremely suprising if a completion estimate calculation had not been carried out.Thus again be brave give your subcribers the % completed, like you do elsewhere, then at least we don’t feel so in the dark.

Seeing a completion bar increasing a little each week is better than having no bar at all.

Looking forward to an Ancestry reply upon the above points.

5 April 2011 at 8:06 pm
Gordon Robertson 

I’d also like to know about when the Scottish 1911 census details will be available on Ancestry. Judging by the time taken to deal with the England census, it may be some time. This is hugely frustrating as it costs a great deal of additional money (over and above the hefty fees paid) to get the census details from and their search engine is pathetic.

5 April 2011 at 8:13 pm
Pauline A Robertson 

I have been a member of Ancestry for a few years now and I am also very disappointed with the non appearance of the 1911 census. I am reluctant to join and pay out to another organisation but may have too if no date is available soon.

5 April 2011 at 9:04 pm

like all of the above i am very disappointed that we still do not have access to the 1911 census. i too have been offered deals to join other websites and now don’t know what to do. my sub is up in may with ancestry but I’m loath to leave as i have been a member for years.

6 April 2011 at 12:06 pm

I would also like to know if Ancestry intend to publish the scottish 1911 census

and if so when ?

I have emailed them but received no answer

6 April 2011 at 1:26 pm

I have been a subscriber to Ancestry for about six years and will continue to do so. My main reason for staying is 1. I purchased FTM 2011 World Sub and that gave me 6 months additional access to Ancestry until November 2011, 2. The incredible saving of time and effort in merging documents and people in the FTM programme, there is nothing like it.
But, I have just subscribed to FMP for a full subscription, mainly because of the 1911 Census. That site is excellent, but I miss the merge.
Let’s accept Ancestry seems to give priority to the USA, as everybody else does, and hadn’t realised the importance of the 1911 Census to us in the UK. For interest in the first day with FMP I found my Mum and my Dad, that was thrilling

6 April 2011 at 2:55 pm
Rob Pattison 

When can we view the 1911 Census?
Can we have a target date?
I and many others, don’t like to be kept hanging on, especially now that the 1911 census has been officially released

6 April 2011 at 6:47 pm
Hilary Gunn 

Yet again a shortage of responses from Ancestry -are they just waiting for April 3 now when comments close on this issue, or do they even read them regularly?

7 April 2011 at 8:50 am
Joanna Woodley 

I agree with much of the above. I left Ancestry about 18 months ago to join findmypast – purely to get at the 1911 census. However I found that, overall, Ancestry had more and better records so, when my year on findmypast came up for renewal, I rejoined Ancestry. I look forward to seeing 1911 on Ancestry but, since I have already found my main ancestors, the rest will just be the icing on the cake!

7 April 2011 at 4:48 pm
Elaine Millar 

Am also very disappointed that Ancestry hasn’t made the Scottish 1911 census available yet. I had a few credits left on Scotlandspeople so managed one look up first thing this morning. But why should I pay Scotlandspeople when I have a worldwide subscription to Ancestry? C’mon Ancestry millions of people around the world are paying millions of dollars for these records. We need better service.

7 April 2011 at 9:11 pm

I have just had confirmation from that the Scottish 1911 will NOT be on the site.Below is the message i got from them today 7/04/11

Thank you for your email.

We will not have any access to the Scottish 1911 census as stated in the previous email you will need to visit their web site.
Member Solutions

7 April 2011 at 11:37 pm
Tony Smith 

“Total disappointment” is all I have to say about your failure to produce the 1911 UK census. You definitely could do better and should do better. My thoughts about re-subscribing with have been seriously affected by your lack of progress! As we, say down-under “ – it’s time to pull finger”.

8 April 2011 at 6:30 am

Im sure this has all be said before, but I was content whilst findmypast was the only site to have full access to the 1911 census, presumably they paid for that right, but Im now very unhappy to see you can get access on genesreunited!

Is this census going to be transcribed through WAP or left to those behind the scenes?

8 April 2011 at 7:57 am
Hilary Gunn 

I am amazed at the answer from Ancestry as relayed to us by David above.
The “access” that they had to all the other Scottish censuses was to transcribe the indexes – not full access, so why do they not have plans to do the 1911 one in the same way? Has the Scottish GRO put the block on it somehow?
And yet again – why is no one from Ancestry responding to these comments?

8 April 2011 at 8:56 am

Genes and FMP are owned by the same people hence they both have 1911. Ancestry did not get the contract for the Scottish 1911 hence they won’t have it, Bright Solid group have tied it up. I know we all want Ancestry to get their finger out and let us know when we will have 1911, patience is the word, it will be worth it in the end. It was the same when FMP started off 1911 and they were expensive.
My ancestry subs expire in May and I’ll renew when 1911 is avaible.

8 April 2011 at 9:00 am
Hilary Gunn 

You’re very generous towards Ancestry Mark – I have no problem with waiting, I do have a problem with being spun a line. All they have to do is give an estimated date,a month would do and answer questions.
There is a way to get information from 1911 now, not to see full images but to get the basic info. Search the census summary books, when you find a likely candidate make a note of the census reference number, then go onto the official 1911 census site and in their search box put in the census ref you have from Ancestry.
If you have two windows open to toggle between it’s even easier.
Works fine.

8 April 2011 at 3:12 pm
Russell James 

We completely understand your frustration over the lack of a release date for the England & Wales 1911 Census. The reason for this is that, as we said before, we feel it would be more frustrating for us to give out a date, and then be unable to meet it for whatever reason. We will have a date for the first stage very soon, and I’m certain it will not be very far into the future.

Regarding the Scottish Census, unfortunately this is considered a completely separate collection, and the original records are held by a different organisation, so it won’t be part of our release.

8 April 2011 at 3:33 pm

Hilary, I don’t think I’m generous to Ancestry, just that after FMP who were just as vague and very expensive to see results when it was pay per view and then charge a greater subs fee to see 1911, where as Ancestry we are told it is going to be in with existing subs, and for that reason I can wait.

8 April 2011 at 4:26 pm
john smith 

An interesting use of words… “we feel it would be more frustrating FOR US to give out a date, and then be unable to meet it ….” ( Russell James 8 April 2011 at 3:33 pm )

Well blow me down with a feather, what about the frustration of the people who pay your wages lol ;)Also surely it’s why you should use “a % to completion bar” it alleviates the problem of having to give a specific completion date….surreptitiously of course this would also allow you to build in an over estimate to completion without the subscribers being aware thus allowing for any unforseen problems i.e the bar will always lag behind the “actual” completed %, simples isn’t it 😀

Well I guess for most people, the

“We will have a date for the first stage very soon, and I’m certain it will not be very far into the future.”

would mean in the next two – three months . Longer than that then we can summize a slightly different turn of phrase would have been more suitable.

Looking forward to a reply on the above specifically why a % bar was not utilised and a conformation that it will be realised within the next two- three months.

Yours John Smith

8 April 2011 at 6:14 pm
Paul Clare 

Hi everybody, like everybody else, i’m still waiting for the 1911 records to be released. Many People pay alot of money, in a time where it could go else where as my good wife tells me. Is it true you can view 1911 results on Genesreunited. Hmmmmm, are they bigger than Ancestry. How did they get them before Ancestry. I think i might go and look elsewhere as i’m paying monthly subs, which works out at a bundle of cash over a year. Good luck and Happy hunting everybody!

9 April 2011 at 8:16 am
mark field 

Paul, genesreunited are owned by brightsolid I beleive, who just happen to own FMP hence they have 1911. I think FMP payed a fortune for it.

9 April 2011 at 7:01 pm
Rob Pattison 

Perhaps the question should be worded, “When did Ancestry start collating the 1911 records”?

10 April 2011 at 7:20 pm
Heather watson 

it seems other sites already have the 1911 census info available so why dont ancestry yet?? so frustrating!

11 April 2011 at 5:20 pm
Allen Dawson 

Why can not the 1911 census be published on Ancestry on a phased basis, the at least some members can use the information?

11 April 2011 at 6:19 pm
Hilary Gunn 

Why can’t I see the earlier messages?
As I said in a previous post, it’s getting close to the end of posting time and there’s no response from Ancestry – what a surprise!

11 April 2011 at 7:31 pm
Andy Davies 

If the 1911 census doesn’t appear on Ancestry before my subscription expires, then I will not resubscribe. Instead I’ll be signing up to FMP.

11 April 2011 at 10:04 pm

Very Disapointed at the slow progress on putting the 1911 Census on this site would not of resubscribed if i had known it was going to take as long as this and would have went with FMP I think Ancestry has been disengenuous in its dealings with its customers.

11 April 2011 at 11:57 pm
john smith 

As posted previously… (summary)

The use of a % to completion bar would alleviate the need to supply an actual completion date.

And please confirm that the release date will be in the next two – three months, as inferred from the statement from Ancestry.

Not very professional to remove the previous posts before the end of the commenting period is it.Seems once again Ancestry shoots itself in the foot ;)Please reinstate the older posts so that new readers of the blog can judge for themselves the overall feeling of people.

Hope for a reply and the older posts to be back 😀

Your John Smith

12 April 2011 at 7:58 am
john smith 

P.S Annabel Reeves

Annabel is the PR Manager for, responsible for getting all new historical record collections talked about in UK media and inspiring others to research their family history. She also manages the Ancestry blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter profile.

Maybe Annabel will reply in person….maybe not, but she has my email lol

12 April 2011 at 10:06 am
Hilary Gunn 

I don’t think we’ll be lucky John – only today for Ancestry to get through without replying and then they can quietly get rid of ALL comments not just the previous 50.

12 April 2011 at 11:37 am
Arthur Whitehead 

Ancestry claim “We really do appreciate your feedback, and ask that you please be respectful to other commenters and authors”.
I wonder if that is why they have removed the first 50 comments! A cynic might think this just a two fingered attitude to their many fee paying customers. Come on Ancestry show you really do care and get 1911 census out there PDQ.

Arthur Whitehead

12 April 2011 at 1:02 pm
Susan Moncur 

We’re trying to fix the problem of deleted comments. This is a technical issue that happens when we receive more than 50 comments on any one post. We completely agree that blog users should be able to see any previous comments – including the one we posted last week in response to your questions about the 1911 release date. Indeed, we’re keen to be able to see your comments ourselves, so we can use your feedback to improve our service.

12 April 2011 at 1:20 pm
Hilary Gunn 

If this is a technical error that happens when you receive over 50 posts, can this possibly be the first time it’s happened? If so surely it gives some idea of the strength of feeling of your subscribers – note, subscribers! We pay!
By the way, a perfect example of how to answer without responding to the main thread of comments.

12 April 2011 at 2:25 pm
Hilary Gunn 

Only a few hours to go now before the time for comments closes on this issue then Ancestry can stop worrying (if they ever did!) about our comments for another month.

12 April 2011 at 7:20 pm