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  • Fiona Appleton-Thorn

What Will the Census Tell Me? There is no "Try" Only Do or Do Not?

Updated: Oct 19

The Census information varies over time and also depends on the location. If you’re looking for the one that had 2.6% of the population naming “JEDI” as their Religion- look at 2001 UK CENSUS notes. It’s true over 390,000 individuals made reference to the JEDI or “JEDI Knight” that year!



Here’s a quick summary of the type information gathered in the US and the UK. We’ve included links to spreadsheets with list of day month and year of each census, as this can be helpful in determining age or other events. You can access them and other FREE TEMPLATES by clicking the "Get Downloads" button here. Or see our home page on https://www.anotherleafgenealogy.com/


The US Census began in 1790 and is taken every 10 years.


The principal topics listed below will indicate how the range of the population censuses grew during the past 2 centuries.


Age and sex, 1790-present (but only for free Whites until 1820)

Slave status, 1790-1860

Color or race, 1790-present (see section below)

Citizenship, 1820-1830, 1870, 1890-present

Physical or mental handicap, 1830-1930, 1970-present

Education or literacy, 1840 present

Marital status, 1880-present

Occupation, 1850-present

Industry, 1820, 1840, 1910-present

Employment status, 1880-present (except 1920)

Crime, 1850-1910

Mortality, 1850-1890

Place of birth, 1850-present

Wage rates, 1850-1890

Income, 1940-present

Pauperism, 1850-1860, 1880-1890, 1910

Prisoners, 1880-1910

Institutionalized persons, 1880- 1890, 1910

Year of immigration, 1890-1930, 1970-present

Number of children ever born, 1890- 1910, 1940-1990

Language (or whether the person could speak English), 1890-1940, 1960-present

Language of parents, 1910-1920

Spanish/Hispanic origin or descent, 1970-present

In the 20th century, interest focused as well on people’s economic characteristics—their jobs and how they traveled to work, their income, and how well they were housed. Most of these questions are asked on a sample basis. Source: US Census Bureau CFF-4 May 2000 PDF Download




The UK Census began in 1801 and was used as ahead count for districts until 1841. Once used the Census was then destroyed. Yes, DESTROYED!! There were a very few regions that retained them for 1801, 1811, 1821, 1831.


1841 is the first complete Census that is available for the UK and instead of just counting heads, they asked for more details. It was the first year in the UK to include:

Name. Age (for those over 15, this was supposed to be rounded down to the nearest 5 years, though this instruction was not obeyed in all cases). Occupation. Whether born in same county recorded as "Yes" or "No" of resident county and if no whether born in Scotland, Ireland or Foreign Parts would be marked with a '√' (tick). Religion (Ireland). Relation to head of the household. Marital status. Place of birth. Whether blind, deaf or dumb. Language spoken (Ireland). Rounding down of ages dropped.

Subsequent Censuses in 1851, 1861, asked for the same.


1871 also asked for the Economic Status of the individual and to not whether they were an "Idiot" or a "Lunatic". No kidding. No statistics appear for those who voluntarily said that they were. Of course this could be due to there being a high population of illiterate who relied upon the Enumerator to write their details into his ledger. Misspellings and assumptions were often made, and no doubt jests too.

1881 Listed the language spoken in Scotland

1891 Listed the Language spoken (in Wales). Whether an employer, an employee, or neither. Number of rooms occupied, if fewer than 5.

1901 Number of rooms in dwelling.[ Whether an employer, worker or working on one's own account. Whether working at home or not. Language spoken (in Wales – children under 3 years of age excluded).

1911 First UK Census where the Census Return for a particular household or institution written directly by the "Head of Household" was used as the primary census return. Industry or service with which the worker is connected. How long the couple has been married. How many children were born alive, how many who are still alive, and how many who have died. "Nationality of any Person born in a Foreign Country". The final column, which had been "Deaf and Dumb, Blind, Lunatic, Imbecile, Feeble-minded", becomes "INFIRMITY: Totally Deaf and Dumb, Totally Blind, Lunatic, Imbecile, Feeble-minded".

Each of the UK Census from 1841 to 1911 can be accessed free- YES FREE! Click Here to look


1921 Taken on 19 June 1921, it consists of more than 28,000 bound volumes of original household returns containing detailed information on close to 38 million individuals. It includes Place of work and industry. Whether a marriage has been dissolved by divorce. It is due for release to the public in January 2022. Here's what the National Archives say about The 1921 UK Census Release.


1931 Taken on the night of Sunday/Monday 26/27th April 1931. The questions asked were similar to those in 1921 with the addition of a question about everyone's usual place of residence, as opposed to where they actually were on that night. But you won't ever find out any details for 1921 England Scotland or Wales from this census. It was destroyed by fire in 1942- No records exist. Not a casualty of War despite common assumptions. If you'd like to know more about the truth click here and get it from the horse's mouth.


1941 Cancelled due to World War II

1951 Added Household Amenities but is not due to be available to the public until 2052.

1961 Added Qualifications, migration, household tenure, but is not due to be available to the public until 2062. 1971 and 1981 asked the same questions as 1961. Not due to be available to the public until 101 years after the date of the documents.


Why restrict access to the Census? Personal Data Protection. In the US it's 75 years, but the UK restricts 100 years to protect the living. Plus it may have something to do with the non persecution of The JEDI Knights. May the Force be with you.





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