A formal proposal to change the traditional paper census form to an online version only has been put to Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office Minister, by the Office of National Statistics with a view to saving the government a large amount of money.
After almost 200 hundred years of using a paper format census, the new proposals are controversial but the argument is with the advances of new technology, there is a chance to save hundreds of millions of pounds by going down the online route.
Elderly people or those unable to use get access to the internet will be given special assistance but officials hope the plans will slash the potential cost of the next census in 2021.
What do you think, should the paper version be kept or is it best to move to an online only format?
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is consulting on the census and the future provision of population statistics in England and Wales.
It is considering options for how and when information is gathered on the population in future, which may possibly involve an end to the Census, which has been around since 1801, such an important document for family historians in their research.
The consultation is open for just a few more days, until 13 December 2013. Individuals and organisations are encouraged to take part. The Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) has got involved and submitted its comments in the online questionnaire. The comments they make and the links to the Consultation Paper and Survey Form can all be found on the Federation website. The direct link to the Office of National Statistics consultation page can be found here.
A handy tip for all those new to family history research is always be alert to the fact an ancestor could appear on a census listing more than once. If your ancestor moved around a bit, or lived an unconventional lifestyle there is always the chance they may have ended up listed in the census more than once.
A case in point is that of daring early aviator and showman, Samuel Franklin Cody. American born but living and working in Britain around the turn of the 20th Century. Before becoming employed by The British Army, he worked with his family on a wild west show and regularly toured around Britain and Europe. Samuel Cody then became interested in aviation and subsequently became one of the leading pioneers of British aviation.
However, around 1901, the Cody family, with their show and their lifestyle, inevitably meant moving about quite a bit which may explain his two entries in the 1901 census. Both entries are from the Cheshire census and it looks like the Cody family may have had two temporary places of accommodation as they took their show around the North West of England. Both Samuel (senior) and his son Samuel Frank Leslie Cody appear listed on the 1901 census records in the screenshot below from TheGenealogist.
Samuel Cody 1901 census entries on TheGenealogist
This famous example shows what can occur so always look out for those duplicate records!
For those researchers looking for an affordable way to access both census and civil registration data, the UK Census Online site (www.ukcensusonline.com ) can offer a good start point in your online research efforts.
The new site offers access to all the censuses for England and Wales from 1841 to 1911 and available birth, marriage and death indexes for those countries since 1837 (currently up to 2005). Whilst there are cheaper monthly packages available, the UK Census Online site offers the cheapest annual subscription package available.
All of the census data at the site is available as searchable transcripts and high-quality original page images. A feature of the new site is a keyword search facility, available only to subscribers. Non-subscribers can use a basic search, which for censuses provides age, jobs and place of birth in the results for free.
The ability to find an entry by just a few search terms like place or occupation makes it easy to refine a search. You can use the keyword search to find the record of an ancestor much the same way as you would find a website using Google. You enter search terms into one box and results are shown in an extract form.
As you transcribe the whole record, you can see each result’s full details before having to click to view the image, thus saving a huge amount of time trying to read the handwritten entries. The keyword refinement also allows you to have extremely relevant results.
In a comparison with other sites, the UK Census Online offers a number of favourable features. For example, ‘Ancestry’ hasn’t transcribed occupation or the street address in the pre-1911 Census and can’t use as many refining terms. ‘Findmypast’ doesn’t provide the range of options or the keyword search facility. More details can be found here – www.ukcensusonline.com