Recording from a Census Record


Census records are key events that are just as significant as Birth, Baptism, Marriage, Death and Burial events, so capturing Census record details is important. Family Historian (ƒh) offers several features for handling Census records as explained below.

Census Event Standard Facts

There are two standard facts associated with Census records; namely the Individual Census Event and the Family Census (family) Event. It is recommended that the Census (family) Event is ignored, as it is not supported by the standard Individual Census Report nor the Ancestral Sources program. Also, the Census (family) Event only applies to the family couple and not their children or any other relations in the Census household.

Typically, each Individual in the Census household will have a Census Event with a Citation to the same Source record. If the Census record has Birth or Occupation or other significant details, then matching facts will also have a Citation to the same Source record.

Using a Method 1 or ‘source splitters’ approach, a Source record will be created for each household and have a meaningful Title, a transcript in the Text From Source, and an image linked to the Media tab. Alternatively, a Method 2 or ‘source lumpers’ approach will have one Source record for the whole Census year, and each Citation will provide specific household details.

Method 1 Source records offer a rapid way of listing all members of a household. From any Census Event click the blue Go To Source Record arrow in the yellow Source pane, and in the resulting Census Property Box click the Go To Record disk icon  in its toolbar at the top. Now that the Census Source is selected, use the Where Used Record Links plugin to list all members of the household in a Result Set. Single click any Record Where Used cell to show their Property Box. Alternatively, in ƒh V7, the View > Citations to Source Record… command can be used.

Note that the Lookup Missing Census Facts plugin and Internet Data Matches both focus on just the Individual Census Events.

For the above reasons, this is the recommended technique for recording Census records, which also exports well to most other products.

Census Fact Witnesses and Roles

Users migrating from products such as TMG, RootsMagic and Legacy may have used Fact Witness (or shared fact) Roles for all except the Principal or Head of household Individual or Family, but this technique is not well supported by some ƒh features. One exception is Narrative Reports which do support Fact Witness sentences quite well.

Before ƒh V7, most Reports and the Lookup Missing Census Facts plugin did not support Census Fact Witnesses, but they do now.

However, a custom Property Box Tab for Census Events and the Ancestral Sources program do not support Census Fact Witnesses.

Also from the perspective of the Witness Individual, their Roles are not easily included in the Individual Records Window, nor any Query or Diagram.

Another drawback is the Age recorded in the Census has no specific field, and can only be added to a Note, whereas separate Census Events each have an Age field.

Fact Witnesses employ a non-standard GEDCOM structure not recognised by most other products, although this is partly mitigated by the Export Gedcom File plugin that creates synthetic facts for the Witness Roles.

To list all members of a household, right-click a Census Event and choose Show Witnesses… to open the Witnesses dialogue, then use the Go To button and Locate Event for Witness to show their Property Box. The Facts tab cog Menu > Show Witnesses… option also opens the Witnesses dialogue. In ƒh V7 to open the Witnesses dialogue, either double-click the Census Event or click the icon in the More column.

For the above reasons, this technique is not recommended for Census records. (However, Fact Witnesses can be very useful with other events.)

Census Dates

It is possible that the Dates entered for Census Events may be wrong or incomplete, especially if imported from another product. The National Archives has a table of Census Dates for the UK as follows:

UK Census Dates

The dates of the UK censuses were as follows:

1841 – 6 June
1851 – 30 March
1861 – 7 April
1871 – 2 April
1881 – 3 April
1891 – 5 April
1901 – 31 March
1911 – 2 April
1921 – 19 June
1931 – 26/27 April but (apart from Scottish records) all were destroyed by fire in 1942
1939 – 29 September UK Register for WWII Identity Cards

Other National Archives will have equivalent data.

Ancestral Sources

Many people use Ancestral Sources to capture Census Records. This program makes entering Census details much easier and quicker, and helps to organise your ƒh data in a logical fashion. It is recommended that you have a good understanding of Working with Sources and Citations and Working with Facts for New Users before using Ancestral Sources.

Related Plugins

  • Give Witnesses Their Own Facts converts Census Witnesses to Census Events from either principal Individual Census Events or Family Census (family) Events.
Last update: 21 Apr 2023