Census Records

The first census was taken in 1801 and has been repeated every 10 years since, except during the Second World War. The original documents, held by The National Archives, are closed for 100 years to guarantee confidentiality. The census is taken to provide important statistical information on the population. The emphasis has varied through time and the details supplied in the returns are not always the same.

What records can I find at the Hull History Centre?

UK census records up to and including the 1911 census are available to search on Ancestry, and records up to and including the 1921 census are available to search on Findmypast, at the Hull History Centre for free with a Library card.

Census records for Hull and Sculcoates 1841-1901 are also available to view on microfilm, searchable by address only. You can book a microfiche reader in advance.

Our library also holds several books which give guidance on how to use census records.

1921 Census

Taken on 19 June 1921, this census is a survey of 38 million people living in England and Wales covering 8.5 million households together with private and public institutions, from prisons, public schools, military bases and workhouses.

It offers a fascinating snapshot of life 100 years ago in the aftermath of the First World War by providing more detail than any previous census. Not only does it include age, birthplace, occupation and residence as found on the census from 1841-1901, number of rooms and members of the household from 1911, but it also provides their place of work, employer details and gives "divorced" as an option for an individual's marital status.

What makes it particularly important is that it will be last census release for England for 30 years, with the 1931 Census lost during the Second World War and due to the war the 1941 Census was never taken.

What information will I find in the census records?

From 1801 to 1831 the census returns were purely numerical in content and contained no personal information. The originals were not preserved after the "Census Reports" were published.

The 1841 census lists the name, age, sex and occupation of every person in the household. However, it does not always give an exact address, nor indicate in which parish a person was born or the relationship with other members of the household. The greatest hindrance is that it does not give the exact age for individuals over the age of 15, with ages being rounded down to the nearest 0 or 5 (e.g. someone aged 44 would be recorded as 40 and somebody aged 48 recorded as 45). Many abbreviations were used for occupations (e.g. F.S. or M.S. for female or male servant; Ap for apprentice; CL for clerk, etc.).

From 1851 the census lists the full name, exact age, sex, marital status, family relationships, occupation, trade or profession and both the parish and country of birth. Condition or marital status is variously abbreviated (e.g. U, Un or S for unmarried). The 1921 census is the most recent census that is available.