"The census is one of the most important datasets we have"

The census data is one of the most important data sets. Ninety percent of people using the National Archives reading room or visiting them online are researching family history, and most will start with census data. This includes everyone from professional genealogists through to people who have never used a computer before, many of whom learn just so they can access historic census data.

The National Archives describe census data as special because it gives people a starting point to pull together all sorts of information on characters from their past. Without the census to kick off the basics of the plot, it would be much harder for people to trace their ancestors.

UK Data Archive, run by the University of Essex also uses historic census data for everything from number of blacksmiths in Shropshire, to the number of children born in 1901. Census data has become central to social and economic history, with big swathes of data from the past ready to be discovered.

There is ongoing interest in this detailed information about the past and The National Archives believe that census data will be an important resource for many years to come.

About The National Archives

The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It incorporates the Office of Public Sector Information and Her Majesty's Stationery Office. As the government's national archive for England, Wales and the United Kingdom, they hold over 1,000 years of the nation's records.