Finding Your Ancestors in the 1911 Census | Family Tree Resources (2023)

Finding Your Ancestors in the 1911 Census | Family Tree Resources (1)

The 1911 Census of England and Wales was taken on 2 April 1911, and contains much more detail than that provided on any previous return. It is a unique census because it is the first census that allows you to see your ancestor’s handwriting as the original forms were kept.

It is considered to be one of the most important census returns because it gives details of a family before the outbreak of World War 1, and includes the details of many young men who unfortunately died in the war.

It lists the name and surname and age of everyone living in the house at the time of the census, and their relationship to the head of the household. Visitors, servants, lodgers and boarders are also listed, along with the the individual’s marital status.

Full details of British personnel stationed overseas was also recorded in the census.

1911 Census Address

The first thing you will notice when perusing the 1911 Census is that the address is not written in the first column as it was in previous census returns. It is now written in the lower right corner of the return, along with your ancestor’s signature.

It is wonderful to see your ancestor’s own signature!

1911 Census Headings

Name and Surname

The name and surname of each individual living in the house on census night was recorded on the census.

Some householders filling in the schedule did not fully understand what they had to do, and entered people who were living away from the family home on census night.

This confusion meant that some people may have been recorded twice – once in their family home, and again in their abode at the time of the census.

Another option is that the person was not entered on the census at all if they were living away from home, and were also not recorded where they were living, especially if it was just for the one night.

Please remember that where a person was living on one night was not necessarily where they spent the majority of their time.

(Video) Researching your family history 1837-1911

Relationship to the Head of the Family

The individuals relationship to the head of the family is also recorded. This was also open to interpretation because I have known instances where the householder stated that his wife’s niece or nephew was his niece or nephew.

You should look at both the husband’s and wife’s family if this was the case. This is also true if the head of the house was a widow or widower.

Age at Last Birthday and Sex

Each householder’s age was entered in this column.

Some householders lied about their age, however, so look for a few years either side of the date if you are unable to find a record for your ancestor. Some gave inaccurate information because they simply did not know when they born.

The sex of the individual was also recorded in this column.

Particulars as to Marriage

Some of the new columns added to the 1911 census were with regard to marriage and fertility, and it became known as the fertility census.

Columns were added to record the duration of the present marriage and the total number of children born alive to that couple. The figure was split between two more columns in which the number of children alive and/or dead was recorded.

The government was becoming increasingly concerned about the poor health of the nation in 1911. In order for the country’s development to continue, a large and healthy workforce was required.

This concern led to women being asked to provide details of how long their marriage had lasted, how many children had been born to that marriage and how many had died.

This new information could be of particular importance to you because it can help you to discover children who may previously have been unknown to you, and can also help you to find other children born to the couple who could have died prior to 1911.

This addition to the Index was especially useful to me because I was able to find another child born to my ancestors that I did not know existed because he was born and died in 1906.

This research was helped enormously by the fact that the mother’s maiden name is recorded in the updated GRO Index available on the General Register Office’s website.

(Video) The 1911 Census

If you wish to discover more about the GRO Index and how it can help your family history research, please read my article: using theGRO Index for Family History Research.

This may also help you to determine if this was your ancestor’s second or subsequent marriage. If many children are listed, but some are older than the ‘years the present marriage has lasted’, it may be prudent to check if either the husband or wife had been married previously.

It is also possible that the householder recorded any children as being stepsons and stepdaughters, making it much easier to determine which children belong to which marriage.

You may find an entire family you did not previously know about!!

Profession or Occupation

Employment was recorded in much more detail in this Census – columns were added to state the Industry or Service with which the worker was connected and whether or not they worked at home.

The householder had to be more precise about the branch of profession, trade or manufacture they were involved in.

If they were engaged in any trade or manufacture, the kind of work they undertook, and the item made or material dealt in had to be indicated, along with the industry or service they were connected with.

Occupation codes were usedso that the government could discover which industries were growing or declining. These were written in blue on the census return.

To find out which occupation code was written for each industry, please read this article from FindmyPast regardingoccupation codes.

It also stated whether or not they were an employer (domestic servants did not count), a worker (working for a employer), or working on their own account. This was only if they did not work for others or worked for a trade employer. If the person worked at home, this also had to be detailed.

The detail regarding occupations is important to you because it will help you to find out more about the daily lives of your ancestors.

My ancestor William George Baker stated that he was an engineer’s driller in the electrical industry. This was noted as being occupation code 636, and was stated as being ‘other electrical apparatus makers; electrical fitters – other’.

(Video) 1911 Census | Ancestry UK

My ancestor’s brother Charles Carrington Baker, who was living with his William and his family in 1911, was stated as being a Store Assistant, for which occupation code 629 was allocated, which was ‘other or undefined workers in engine and machine making – others’.

Birthplace of Every Person

Your ancestor’s birthplace was also recorded, and because they completed the schedule, it sometimes gives more detail of their place of birth, listing their actual birth address, which was the first time this was recorded in this much detail.

Some householders did not know where they had been born, however, so either entered NK or not known in this column, which is always very disappointing.

Each place of birth was assigned a code, which was written in red on the census by the enumerator so this information could be categorised. To discover more about birthplace codes, please read the article from FindmyPast regardingbirthplace codes.

My ancestor William George Baker was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, which was categorised as code 201, but his brother Charles, his wife Elizabeth, and children were all born in areas of London, which was categorised as code 000.

If a person was born outside of the United Kingdom, their birth country was recorded. If the person was born outside the UK, but in another part of the British Empire, the name of the dependency or colony was recorded, along with the Province or State.

Nationality of Every Person Born in a Foreign Country

There was also a place to state whether the person was a British Subject by parentage, Naturalised British Subject (also gives year of naturalisation) or if of foreign nationality, whether French, German, Italian, Russian etc.

Infirmity Recorded in the Census

A column was provided on the census so that the head could state if any members of the household were ‘totally deaf’ or ‘deaf and dumb’, totally blind, a lunatic or imbecile or were feeble-minded. The age at which the person became inflicted was also recorded.

Original 1911 Census Schedules

This is the first time the original schedules were not destroyed, so you are able to see your ancestor’s own handwriting, but please be aware that approximately 5 percent of thesescheduleswere damaged bywaterseveral years ago, so they are more difficult to read.

You can also read any additional comments they may have added to the record.

Census Schedule

The numbers of the Registration District, Registration Sub-District and Enumeration District were entered on the schedule, which was completed by the enumerator.

The head of the familyor separate occupier was also entered on this sheet, along with the address of the property.

(Video) Find MORE ANCESTORS in the 1921 Census With THESE 6 Tips!

Suffragettes – The Boycott of the 1911 Census

Some women boycotted the census to vent their frustration that the government had not granted the vote to women.

In some instances, women refused to complete the form and in other instances women stayed away from home on the night, so they were not able to be recorded.

The suffragettes’ rallying call was that ‘if women don’t count, neither shall they be counted’ and some wrote ‘votes for women’ across the schedule.

Emily Wilding Davison hid in a cupboard in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the House of Commons. The form states that she was ‘found hiding in crypt of Westminster Hall’.

Other Information Recorded in the 1911 Census

The number of rooms in the house was also recorded, and the head of the house had to sign the schedule to certify that the information provided was correct to the best of his or her knowledge. This is especially exciting because you are able to see your ancestor’s signature.

1911Census Headings at a Glance

  • Name and Surname
  • Relationship to Head of Family
  • Age (last birthday) and Sex
  • Condition – Single, Married, Widower, Widow (aged 15 years and upwards)
  • Completed years the present Marriage has lasted
  • Children born alive to present marriage: followed by Total Children born alive
  • Children still living
  • Children who have died
  • Personal Occupation
  • Industry or Service with which worker is connected
  • Whether employer, worker or working on own account
  • Whether working at home
  • Birthplace
  • Nationality of every Person born in a Foreign Country
  • Infirmity

How to Access the 1911 Census

You are able to view the census attheNational Archivesand theNational Library of Wales.

You are also able to search the 1911 Census online at Ancestry and FindmyPast.


Ancestry is great for anyone who does not have the time to, or is unable to, visit Record Offices or Libraries.

It is especially good if you wish to access records from the comfort of your home.

Read my in-depth review to find out more about its features, advantages, and disadvantages.


FindmyPast is good for anyone, whether they are just starting their family history journey, or have already conducted some research.

It is especially good for people who wish to read newspaper articles.

Read my in-depth review to find out more about its features, advantages and disadvantages.

(Video) Starting Family History census


Can I view the 1911 census for free online? ›

There are free indexes to all of the census returns up to 1911 at, with links to the images on Findmypast (charges apply).

Why can't I find my ancestors on the census? ›

So if your ancestor was not enumerated, it is likely to have been by accident rather than design. Or they might have been out of the country at the time of the census.

Why can't I find someone on the 1911 census? ›

Some portions of the Census Returns from 1841 to 1911 have been lost over the years, so it may be that your ancestor was living at an address contained in one these missing portions. The most missing pages are from the 1861 Census.

How do I access census records for free? ›

View digitized Census Records online through one of our partners, or ( is free-of-charge. is available free-of-charge at the National Archives facilities nationwide and through many libraries, otherwise by subscription.)

How do I access the census data? ›

Census Data

Find both public use data and restricted datasets listed at the Center for Economic Studies website. The new CEDSCI data dissemination site,, is a catalog of public Census data. Census Academy offers webinars on how to use the publicly available data.

How do I find my hard to find ancestors? ›

Tips for Finding a Hard to Find Ancestor
  1. Focus on One Thing at a Time. In genealogy research, you often have many goals and it can get overwhelming. ...
  2. Search Databases Individually. Popular and large sites that have access to many databases. ...
  3. Try Offline Searches. ...
  4. Specialize Your Search. ...
  5. Search Different Databases.
Apr 4, 2023

How do I find my ancestors in census records? ›

Records from the 1960 to 2020 censuses can only be obtained by the person named in the record or their heir after submitting form BC-600 or BC-600sp (Spanish). Online subscription services are available to access the 1790–1950 census records.

How do I find my unknown ancestors? ›

  1. Take an AncestryDNA® test. One of the best ways to find members of your biological family is to take an AncestryDNA® test. ...
  2. Review your closest DNA matches. ...
  3. Contact your matches. ...
  4. View your shared matches. ...
  5. Look for common ancestors. ...
  6. Start descendancy research. ...
  7. Contact living family members. ...
  8. Hire a professional.
Feb 15, 2023

How many generations back can you figure out your family tree? ›

With autosomal DNA testing, you can trace your family much further back—which allows you to make discoveries that you never expected. Most ancestry companies offer a solid view of your most recent 5-7 generations, with varying levels of detail.

Are there any truly free genealogy sites? ›

The best free genealogy websites reviewed
  • National Archives. The United States National Archives holds many genealogy records of genealogical importance. ...
  • Library of Congress. ...
  • Chronicling America. ...
  • Allen County Public Library. ...
  • ...
  • Ellis Island. ...
  • Castle Garden. ...
  • USGenWeb.

Which is better 23 and me or ancestry com? ›

23andme is as accurate as AncestryDNA and also provides the migration paths for maternal and paternal lineages. But its DNA database is smaller than AncestryDNA's, and the company monetizes the biomedical data of customers who opt in to research.

Why are my ancestors not on 1921 census? ›

Why is the 1921 census not on Ancestry? The 1921 census will be exclusively available on Findmypast for up to three years (until 2025), after which The National Archives (TNA) will be able to set up deals with other partners such as Ancestry, TheGenealogist or MyHeritage.

Why isn t the 1921 census available from Ancestry? ›

The 1921 England and Wales census records aren't currently available on Ancestry because the National Archives has signed an exclusive deal with Findmypast . Researchers from Findmypast have spent three years delving into and digitising the findings of the 1921 census, which consists of 28,000 physical volumes.

Why are some names blacked out on the 1939 census? ›

You will see some records covered by a black line in the 1939 Register. These are the records of individuals who were born less than 100 years ago and whose death has not been registered. This is to protect their privacy if they are still alive.

Are all census records public? ›

Decennial census records are confidential for 72 years to protect respondents' privacy. Records from the 1960 to 2020 censuses can only be obtained by the person named in the record or their heir after submitting form BC-600 or BC-600sp (Spanish).

Are census records available online? ›

Because of a 72-year restriction on access to the Census, the most recent year available is 1950. The 1950 Census was released on April 1, 2022. The National Archives has the census schedules available from 1790 to 1950, and most have now been digitized by our digitization partners.

Can I view census records after 1911? ›

The 1901 and 1911 censuses were taken under legislation which made no provision for the confidentiality of the information recorded on them. These were made available as public records in 1961 via a warrant made by the Minister for Justice under the Public Records (Ireland) Act, 1867.

How do I find out how many people have my name? › searches the country for how many people share your first name, last name and both combined. "The U.S. Census Bureau statistics tell us that there are at least 151,671 different last names and 5,163 different first names in common use in the United States.

What can you get from census data? ›

The census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation, and helps our communities determine where to build everything from schools to supermarkets, and from homes to hospitals. It helps the government decide how to distribute funds and assistance to states and localities.

How do I download a census data table? ›

Step 1: Locate the tables that you want. Click on the 'Download Table Data' button. Step 2: Check the boxes next to the tables you want. Click on the 'Download' button.

Can I trace my ancestors for free? ›

1. FamilySearch. FamilySearch is the world's largest free genealogy website with a global index of millions of births, marriages and deaths, plus millions of UK parish records and indexes to workhouse records, land tax assessments, school records, court books, manorial records and more.

What free apps can you find your ancestors? ›

All four giant genealogy websites—Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage—are easy to use on-the-go. These genealogy apps are free, and can be used with your free guest log-in or paid subscription. You'll get the same access to features as you do on the full sites.

How do you find an elusive ancestor? ›

Dealing with difficult ancestors: Tips and tricks for finding those elusive family members
  1. Write down everything you know about the person.
  2. Look at the pre-1850 censuses.
  3. Make sure you have found all relevant censuses.
  4. Trace the siblings of your ancestor and their descendants.
Jul 20, 2018

How do I trace my ancestral history? ›

Use the US Census online at Start with the most recent ancestors: find their names on each census, and work backward into the past. The online censuses are indexed – so if you put in the name and birthday, it may bring up the correct person along with other possibilities.

What is the Ancestry question on the census? ›

The ACS question on ancestry is "What is your ancestry or ethnic origin?" The text after the question provides examples of particular ethnic groups.

How do I find someone in the 1910 census? ›

Search the 1910 Census Online
  1. National Archives Catalog (NAID 2353588) (free)
  2. (free from NARA computers)
  3. ($ - by subscription)
  4. (free with account creation)
  5. (free from NARA computers)
Aug 22, 2022

How do I find a parent I never met? ›

We provide you with a list of some ways to find him:
  1. Take a DNA Test. This is one of the most common methods. ...
  2. Hire a Private Investigator. ...
  3. Request information from your birth mother or adopted family. ...
  4. Record Search. ...
  5. Social Media. ...
  6. Access your State Adoption Records.

What is ghost ancestors? ›

A mysterious "ghost population" of now-extinct ancient human-like creatures may have interbred with early humans living in West Africa, scientists say. Researchers suggest DNA from this group makes up between 2% and 19% of modern West Africans' genetic ancestry.

Can DNA tell you who your ancestors are? ›

Examination of DNA variations can provide clues about where a person's ancestors might have come from and about relationships between families. Certain patterns of genetic variation are often shared among people of particular backgrounds.

How far back is 2% DNA? ›

How many generations back is 2% DNA? To find where you get your 2 percent DNA, you will have to search back to about 5 or 6 generations. This would be your great 4x great-grandparents. To figure this out, you will need to use the 50% DNA inheritance rule.

What is the oldest traceable family tree? ›

Analyzing ancient DNA from a Neolithic tomb in Britain, an international team of geneticists and archeologists have mapped out the family tree of a group of 27 close biological relatives who lived around 3700 BC.

What is the furthest back anyone has traced their genealogy? ›

The longest family tree in the world is that of the Chinese philosopher and educator Confucius (551–479 BC), who is descended from King Tang (1675–1646 BC). The tree spans more than 80 generations from him and includes more than 2 million members.

Is MyHeritage better than Ancestry? ›

Compared to MyHeritage's 2.5 million DNA testing kits, Ancestry has access to far more genetic DNA testing data. As we will see, this gives them a strong advantage when it comes to DNA analysis for ethnicity estimates and family matching.

What is the number one genealogy site? ›

How much does it cost to have Henry Louis Gates do your Ancestry? ›

In my experience, family history books may cost anywhere from $5,000 to over $50,000. (These numbers have been updated since this post was written to reflect current market rates.)

Who is parent 1 on ancestry DNA? ›

For example, if you know that match is your maternal aunt, and you see that we assigned her to parent 1, then parent 1 is your maternal side–which makes parent 2 your paternal side. Parent 1 in ethnicity inheritance will always be parent 1 in your matches, and parent 2 in one will be parent 2 in the other.

Do siblings have the same ethnicity percentages? ›

Many people believe that siblings' ethnicities are identical because they share parents, but full siblings share only about half of their DNA with one another. Because of this, siblings' ethnicities can vary.

Which ancestry site is most accurate? ›

HomeDNA provides the most accurate breakdown of your DNA. Their specific tests give you only facts about your DNA and you can decide how you want to continue your research. What Is the Best Free Genealogy Site? MyHeritage is the best genealogy site.

Will I be able to view the 1921 Census free? ›

You can view it online via Findmypast, where unlimited access to the 1921 Census is now available.

How do I find a 1911 census by address? ›

For 1911, you can use the census summary books. From the 1911 census home page, scroll down and open the relevant summary book search page. This lets you search by address making it much easier to track down a street.

Is the 1950 Census available online free? ›

On April 1, 2022, the 1950 Census was released, and users can access it for free through a dedicated website at

Is the 1910 census available online? ›

The 1910 Federal Census is available online.

Why can't i get the 1921 Census on Ancestry? ›

Why is the 1921 census not on Ancestry? The 1921 census will be exclusively available on Findmypast for up to three years (until 2025), after which The National Archives (TNA) will be able to set up deals with other partners such as Ancestry, TheGenealogist or MyHeritage.

Why does Ancestry not have the 1921 Census? ›

The 1921 England and Wales census records aren't currently available on Ancestry because the National Archives has signed an exclusive deal with Findmypast . Researchers from Findmypast have spent three years delving into and digitising the findings of the 1921 census, which consists of 28,000 physical volumes.

How much does it cost to view the 1921 Census? ›

You can also view 1921 Census records on a pay-per-view basis using Findmypast micropayments. Viewing transcriptions costs $3.50 per record. Viewing images of the original records costs $4.90 US each.

What information was in the 1911 census? ›

The information sought was: name, age, sex, relationship to head of the household, religion, occupation, marital status, county or country of birth. The census also records an individual's ability to read or write and ability to speak the Irish language, and whether deaf, dumb, blind, idiot, imbecile or lunatic.

What is the 72 year rule for the census? ›

April 2, 2012. The U.S. government will not release personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it was collected for the decennial census.

What is different about the 1950 Census? ›

1950 Census Form

The person on the last sample line was also asked additional questions, starting from 34. In 1940, every person age 14 or over was asked questions about their income in 1939; in 1950, only persons on sample lines who were age 14 or over were asked income questions.

Why are census records sealed for 72 years? ›

Why 72? The most common explanation is that 72 years was the average lifespan at the time, although documentation corroborating this is sparse. The 1940 Census counted 132.2 million Americans, 89.8% of whom were white. At the time there was no census category for Hispanics (it was not added to census forms until 1980).

What is the oldest census available to public? ›

Census records can provide the building blocks of your research. The first Federal Population Census was taken in 1790, and has been taken every ten years since. Because of a 72-year restriction on access to the Census, the most recent year available is 1950. The 1950 Census was released on April 1, 2022.

Why can't I find someone in the 1900 census? ›

There are a number of reasons a person might do a disappearing act from one census, only to reappear in the next one. Maybe your ancestor was in-transit, in the military, or incognito. Maybe the census taker couldn't find him or he refused to answer the door.


1. Extract U.S. Census Data into Excel to Find Your Ancestors in Your Family History Fast
(Genealogy TV)
2. 1921 UK Census Tutorial on FindMyPast - Discovering My Ancestors' Info
(Family Curious)
3. Findmypast Expert Help - A Guide To Censuses
4. How to harvest data from the 1911 Irish census ...
(DNA and Family Tree Research)
5. How to find ancestors tutorial for beginners 2022 - start on family search & ancestry free
(Epic Genealogy)
6. Researching your family history: 20th century sources
(The National Archives UK)


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