Tag Archives: 2011 census

The 2011 census – what will future generations make of me?

28 Mar

Having done my duty and filled in the 2011 census form last night I got to wondering what future genealogists and family historians would make of our answers to the 2011 census.

It was a useful reminder that we probably shouldn’t try to read too much in the answers that our ancestors left. We scrutinise the census returns for any little clue to the lives of our ancestors, but they were just doing the same as me last night, filling in a form for some government statisticians, struggling to remember details that I couldn’t be bothered to get up and check and hoping that I hadn’t mis-read any of the questions.

Still I couldn’t help but imagine future generations studying my answers intently, trying to piece together my life from those few questions and answers and wondering what sort of picture they will come up with.

Will the fact that I decided to fill in the paper form and not the online version be seen as evidence that I didn’t have a computer or access to internet?

Will they wonder how I managed to take the train to work when I didn’t live near a railway station? Will the figure out that I took a bus to the station? Will they be studying contemporary timetables trying to work out which trains I must have caught? Will they be searching digital archives for photos of the trains that I might have travelled on?

What will they make of the fact that we have gas central heating? Will they ponder on the significance of that fact? Will the Society of Genealogists publish a book in 2111 entitled “My Ancestor had Central Heating” describing the different type of central heating and the significance to your ancestors.

Will they be attending lectures entitled “Black or Blue? What the colour of ink your ancestor used to fill in the 2011 census can tell you about their lives” or “Pen and Paper: Why your ancestor didn’t do it online”?

Although it is fun to wonder what future generations will make of my answers in the 2011 census it is also serves as a warning not to read too much in the answers given by earlier generations. Was that visitor just staying the night or had they been living there for years? Were they welcomed with open arms or tolerated because they had nowhere else to stay? In most case we will probably never know.

Free accesss to Ancestry.co.uk census indexes on the 27th March 2011

22 Mar

To mark the fact that Sunday 27th March 2011 is census day in the UK, Ancestry.co.uk will be allowing free access to their UK census indexes for the whole day.

After checking the census indexes however you will need a membership subscription, to sign up for a free 14-day trial or to use pay-as-you-go credits to view the actual images of the original pages (except for the Scottish ones that Ancestry aren’t allowed to display).

According to the post by Kelly Godfrey on the Ancestry.co.uk blog “census records are the perfect first step. They list everybody in each household all over the country, together with crucial details such as their ages and birthplaces. So, you can quickly and easily collect names and dates for several generations.”

Just don’t get too carried away and forget that you are also supposed to be filling in the 2011 census on the same day.

The Census: Now it’s my turn…

11 Mar

Having spent many years look at the census it is finally my turn to fill one in. The 27th March 2011 is census day here in the UK and for the first time in my life I am going to be the head of household, although my wife might have something to say about that!

The census forms have returned, although I haven’t bothered to open the envelope yet, but I will be doing my bit on the 27th March. Of course this isn’t the first census I will be listed in (the first was 1981) and hopefully it won’t be the last just yet.

I shall do my best not to uphold the traditions of my ancestors, so I won’t be:

  • Hiding somewhere else on census night
  • Spelling my surname wrong
  • Lying about my age
  • Forgetting where I was born
  • Mixing up my first and middle names
  • Exaggerating what I do for a living
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