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Official Papers: Census 1801-


From 1801, the census has been published every ten years with the only exception being 1941, the census not being taken due to the Second World War. Up until 1911 the census returns are to be found published as Parliamentary Papers. From 1921-1991 the censuses were not published as Parliamentary Papers, these are found in the Official Papers reading room on open shelf. They are not available in digital format. Census returns for 2001 onwards are available in digital format only, via the Office for National Statistics. 

As mentioned previously there is a gap of twenty years, from 1931 – 1951; the census was then taken again in 1961 and, for the first and only time with a gap of five years, a sample census for 1966. The Scottish, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland census reports are shelved with the census for Great Britain.

For a useful guide to the census report, see Guide to Census Reports Great Britain 1801-1966 published in 1977 by the Office of Populations Censuses and Surveys. A print copy can be found at O.REF/PARL.28.

A list of census reports found within the Parliamentary Papers bound set with the correct reference can be found within the same guide The references can then be used to search the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers database via Databases A-Z (use link below) where they are available in full text and can be downloaded in pdf format. The Official Papers section in the Bodleian Law Library also holds all census material in print format which is available on open shelf. 

For expert advice on census records of the 2011 and earlier censuses please consult Census Customer Services provided by the Office for National Statistics.  Examples of services on offer: advice on definitions of census terms and creating simple ranking and counts for customer specified areas. 


N.B for returns on individuals please consult The National Archives