Common queries regarding the 1881 census data

One of the most frequent emails I've had since putting statistics from 1881 census on the site is "Will you be adding the ability to search or view individual records?"

The simple answer to that, at least in the short term, is "no". Here's a brief summary of why not:

  • It isn't really what this site is about. There are plenty of other sites where you can view individual records from the 1881 census, but none of them offer what this site does - a statistical overview of the surnames recorded in it. Creating a site with the ability to search and view individual records would need to be a different project.

  • I don't currently have permission to do so. Although the data itself is Crown Copyright and I do have a licence for that, I don't have the resources to do my own transcripts of the records. The statistics on this site, therefore, are derived from a published version of the data and that version is subject to copyright. The licence terms by which I obtained a copy of the published version don't allow me to re-publish the data itself - I can extract statistics from it and publish them, but I can't make individual records from it available to users of this site. To solve that, I would need either to create my own transcripts of the original records (pretty much impossible without a huge army of transcribers), or obtain permission from another licensee to re-publish their transcripts (likely to be costly).

  • The full database is huge - many millions of records - and it's beyond the capacity of my current webhost to handle something that large. Since this site is entirely free to view, with the only income being from adverts and affiliate links, I couldn't afford to significantly increase my hosting expenditure to allow for that. In this context, it's worth pointing out that all except one of the sites which do offer access to individual records charge for it. The exception is the Family Search website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons), who have a theological incentive to provide the material free of charge as genealogy is an important part of their faith. Since I don't have the backing of a large religious organisation and this isn't primarily a commercial venture, it simply isn't practical to upgrade my hosting facilities to be able to offer full access to individual records.

In the long run, if both the licensing and cost issues can be solved, then I may consider creating a free-to-view census site as a new, standalone project. But those are two pretty big "if"s, and there's no guarantee that either can be solved. It would also require a fair amount of time and effort on my part, and I can't guarantee that I'll have that either!

What about the 1911 census data?

The 1911 census data for England and Wales is currently only available commercially. If a free version ever becomes available, then I'll consider adding it. But that's not likely to happen in the immediate future.