Friday, April 01, 2011


The following is from FindMyPast., a leading UK family history website, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the completion of the 1911 Census for England & Wales on Friday 2nd April, by highlighting some of the fascinating insights that have been uncovered using this invaluable record of our past.

As the ink dries on the recent 2011 census, 100 years ago the most recently released census was completed by 36 million householders on Sunday, 2 April 1911. The census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home as well as their relationship to the head of the household.

The 1911 Census was launched online in 2009 on The National Archives' official website - - earlier than the customary 100 year rule following a Freedom of Information Act challenge. Since then the 1911 census has been a key resource for family historians, with almost 3 million people visiting the site to research their own ancestors' census records within the first 6 months alone*.

Available since October 2009 on, the records give people the chance to view stunning, high resolution full colour images of their ancestors' original handwritten census returns and delve into the most comprehensive set of records available. has the complete 1911 record set and has discovered some fascinating insights in the Census:

Life in 1911
.       The estimated population in England and Wales in 1911 was 36,003,276 people
.       Life expectancy was 54 years for women and 50 for men in 1911. In 2011 life expectancy is predicted to be 82 for women and 74 for men (Actuary's Department).
.       The average family had 2.8 children in 1911 - the average in 2008 was 1.8 children (ONS).
.       It is estimated that the richest 1 per cent of the population held around 70 per cent of the UK's wealth in 1911, compared with 23 per cent in 2001(ONS).
.       The top five occupations in 1911 were domestic service (1,302,438), agriculture (1,229,555), coal mining (971,236), building (817,942) and cotton manufacture (623,825).
.       5.2% of children aged 10-14 were in employment in 1911.
.       The Liberal Party was in power - although the popularity of the newly formed Labour Party was on the rise in this period.
.       The 'Great Unrest' saw a series of strikes across the country in key industries such as the docks, railways and coal mines.
.       The 1908 National Insurance Act came into force in 1911, introducing sick pay (10 shillings a week) and unemployment pay (7 shillings a week) (The National Archives)

The digitisation of over 8 million paper census returns and the creation of 16 million digital images had a huge impact on family history in the UK. Research commissioned by in May 2009 revealed that nearly a quarter of the UK population (23%) had researched their family tree since it launched the 1911 Census online just five months earlier**.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at, said: " undertook one of the biggest ever digitisation projects with The National Archives. Since its launch over two years ago, the 1911 Census has enabled hundreds of thousands of people across the world to unlock the mysteries of their family tree. For many, being able to see the detail of their ancestors' handwriting on the Census return is thrilling and has whet their appetite to learn more about where they come from."'s parent company brightsolid is due to launch the 1911 Scottish Census on 5th April and has been given the exclusive rights to capture the 2011 Scottish Census online.

'Fertility Census'
The 1911 census was the first to ask questions relating to fertility in marriage.  Married women were asked to state how long their present marriage had lasted and how many children had been born to that marriage.  The census also provides a fascinating snapshot of the population of the country just a few years before a whole generation of young men perished in the Great War of 1914-1918.

Leading UK family history website (formerly was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.

Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today. has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 1538. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.

In November 2006 launched the microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

As well as providing access to historical records, is also developing a range of online tools to help people discover and share their family history more easily, beginning with the launch of Family Tree Explorer in July 2007.

In April 2007,'s then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement. was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company who were awarded The National Archives' contract to publish online the 1911 census, which it launched in January 2009.

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