Family History Federation

Find Your Family

Find out where your parents and grandparents have lived. Do they have photos of their houses? Was it in a town, in the country, or overseas? How is your house the same or different?

If they are not from the area where you live now, can you find out why they moved?

If you want to find out where earlier generations lived in the UK, try looking at censuses – but be careful, sometimes names and details are not always written down correctly.

What is a Census?

A Census is a count of all the people who live in a country, from the oldest person to a new born baby. In the United Kingdom (UK), a census is usually taken every ten years, in the Spring and on a Sunday. The first census was taken in 1801, then every 10 years until the latest census in 2011 ? except for 1941.

Can you discover why no census was taken in 1941?

The last census was taken on 27th March 2011, when every house was given a census form to complete. This helps the government to work out what services your community needs. Using the censuses, you may be able to find out where your family members were living between 1841 and 1911, as these censuses are online. Some items have to be paid for, but you can search the 1881 census for England and Wales for free on several websites and the 1841 and 1861 censuses for Devon on

The census collected information about:

  • age, gender, marital status
  • health
  • occupation
  • religion and ethnicity
  • education
  • number of people living in a household and their relationship
  • housing

In hundreds of years family historians will be using the census to find out about you and your family. The 2011 Census collected information about our lives today, and in future years, children can use this information to learn how we lived and how society has changed. Your children, grandchildren and great grand children will be able to read what has been put on your census form.

Here is a Census Form to complete for your family.

Print this booklet and create your own census storybook.

Have a look at this booklet which could have been created by a boy in 1851. Are there any similarities between you and Arthur Smith?

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