Recording UK Census data

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This guide explains how to record all of the information about a household on one Census return. In GRAMPS 1.0.X this was a time consuming activity that involved repeatedly retyping much of the information for each person on the Census return. Using the extra drag & drop capabilities in GRAMPS 2.X and the Scratch Pad tool this repetition has been greatly reduced.

For genealogists with UK ancestors the UK Census returns are a very important source of information. Census' have been conducted every 10 years in the UK since 1841 (details of all the UK Census dates and how to access the records can be found at [1]). The 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 Census returns are available online at [2] for a subscription.

Census returns are organised by location and each return shows a list of households living in a particular street. This means that once you find a return showing one of your ancestors it will also show the rest their family members living in the same house.

Information contained in a Census return

The Census return for John Martin in 1881

Each of the UK Census’ recorded slightly different information (full details of the information recorded on each Census can be found at [3]). For this guide I will use an example taken from the 1881 Census that shows the family of my ancestor John Martin.

This Census page records the following information about where the census was taken and where the page is located within the Census record:

  • Piece number RG 11/2854
  • Folio 17
  • Page 27
  • Civil Parish [or Township]: Wednesbury
  • City or Municipal Borough: Not specified
  • Municipal Ward: Not specified
  • Parliamentary Borough: Wednesbury
  • Town, Village or Hamlet: Not specified
  • Urban Sanitary District: Wednesbury
  • Rural Sanitary District: Not specified
  • Ecclesiastical Parish or District: St. Bartholemew

Then each member of the household is listed, with information about them recorded in the following columns:

  • Column 1 - No. of schedule, numbered from 1 consecutively per book
  • Column 2 - Name of street, place or road, and name or number of house
  • Column 3 - Houses; separate columns for inhabited and uninhabited or being built (entered as 'U' or 'B')
  • Column 4 - Name and surname
  • Column 5 - Relationship to head of family
  • Column 6 - Condition; marital status
  • Column 7 - Age last birthday; separate columns for males and females
  • Column 8 - Rank, profession or occupation
  • Column 9 - Where born; county/place
  • Column 10 - Whether
    • 1 - Deaf & dumb,
    • 2 - Blind,
    • 3 - Imbecile or idiot,
    • 4 - Lunatic

To enter this information into GRAMPS we will need to record all of the information on the census for each member of the household. This is done my creating a Person record for each person in turn.

Entering preliminary information

Add Source

Before we start to enter the people there is some preliminary information that we should record first.

Firstly we should add the 1881 Census as a Source record so that it can be referred to when we add all the Person records. To create a Source record, start from the Gramps opening window and click on the Sources icon in the list of icons on the left of the window. Now click the Add button on the icon bar at the top right of the window. Fill in the dialog box with the details of the source, illustration 2 shows the completed information for the 1881 Census. Once all the information has been entered click the OK button on the dialog box.

Add Source Reference

Now the image of the Census page that we are entering can be added to Gramps. You don't need to do this but it can help to keep track of the original documents. To add the image click the Media icon in the icon list on the left of the main window. Now click the Add icon in the icon bar at the top right. Locate the image in your filestore and then click OK to add it to Gramps. NOTE: Gramps does not take a copy of the image it only stores a link to the image in your filestore. If you move or delete the image Gramps will not be able to find it again. Once the image has been added right click on the image name and select Edit Properties from the drop-down menu. You can fill in as much of the properties information as you see fit. At the very least you should fill in the Source information. Select the Sources tab and click on the Plus symbol. You should now fill in the Source Reference dialog with the information about this page of the Census. Illustration 3 shows the completed dialog.

Entering the head of the family

Entering the rest of the family



Richard Taylor
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