Thursday, January 5, 2012

Finding U.K. Census Records on

Continuing my series of finding census records on the subscription website,  I want to look at United Kingdom census records today.  I could find no information about the United Kingdom census record collections available on - does it include every year from 1841 to 1911, and all counties, which are available on other subscription sites?

My target today was one of my ancestors - Ann Richman, born in about 1784 in Wiltshire.  I know that she is in the 1841 and 1851 UK Census records in Hilperton.  Here is my search process:

1)  The UK Census search screen is:

I added "First Name" = "Ann" and "Last Name" = "Richman" to the Search fields, with the "Exact" boxes unchecked, and clicked on the blue "Search" button.  This screen came up:

The red bar at the top says "Please double check the information of the fields marked in red."  Okay...the one marked in red in the screen above is the "Birth Year" field where it says "Must be from 1841 to 1901."  Huh?  There are records available only for persons born between 1841 and 1901?  What about all of the older people listed in the census records?  That makes absolutely no sense to me - it must be an error in the search capability.

2)  I put a "Birth year" = "1841" and a year range of "+/- 10 years" just to get some results. 

The search told me that there were no matches, in all of England, for a person named Ann Richman (without the exact box checked).  How can that be possible?

Perhaps there are not any persons named "Ann Richman" born between 1831 and 1851 in the UK census records.  I checked the FamilySearch collection for the 1851 UK Census and found that there were none found in that search, but searching for "Ann Richman" without any birth years revealed 22 matches, but the search results show no birth years (were the Birth Years indexed and are they searchable on FamilySearch?).  In the 1861 UK Census, FamilySearch shows 4 matches for an "exact" "Ann richman" born between 1831 and 1851. 

Therefore, if the collection includes the 1861 UK Census, then it isn't showing matches for "Ann Richman" for some reason.

3) Knowing that there must be UK Census records on the site, I decided to search for "First Name" = "John" (not exact) and "Last Name" = "Smith" (not exact) and "Birth Year" = "1850" with a range of "+/- 5 years." That worked, and gave me 136 matches (the ones I saw were only from the 1851 census). I get a lot of "time outs" on the site for some reason.

Here is the first page of matches:

I clicked on one of the matches (the person's name, although clicking on "View Original image" and "View Full Record" go to the same screen) and saw:

The screen above has a link for "View Digitized Record" that takes me to the specific record (it says that the image is from

The image above is a PDF file for the specific image.  There appear to be no navigation tools so that the user can go to the previous or next image in the collection.  It appears that the user has to go back to the Search page and search for another name. 

4)  Lessons Learned:

*  The UK Census Records on are available for at least the 1851 UK Census.  If this is wrong, please tell me!

*  The Search field for Birth Year requires an input of 1841 to 1901.  This makes it impossible to make a search for someone born before 1841 in the UK Census records.

*  There appear to be no navigation tools to go from one census page to a previous page or a next page in the collection. 

*  Searching this collection is almost unusable in its present form.

5)  Suggestions for

*  Tell us which UK census years are available, and if they are for all counties.  Making us guess causes frustration and time wasting.

*  Remove the requirement for a Birth Year entry on the Search form.  This is totally unreasonably IMHO.

*  Add navigation tools so that the user can advance to other pages without going back to the Search screen.

Disclosure: provided a free subscription to their collection at the SCGS 2011 Jamboree which I appreciate. This did not influence my statements in this blog post, but it did enable them to be made!

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