A groundbreaking five year project which has seen Scotland's historians working to make available online the nation's census records, today (Thursday 20 April 2006) culminated with the publication of the 1841 census.
The original handwritten records, which have never before been seen online, were published by www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, one of the world's leading genealogy websites, bringing the total number of Scottish historical records available on the site to over 50 million.
In addition to encouraging ancestral tourism, the Scottish Executive funded project has made it easier for thousands of people across the globe to trace their Scottish roots and the website now has in excess of 400,000 registered users.
The 1841 census was the first to record information on individuals and it has helped to paint a unique picture of life in Scotland at that time. With a population of 2,620,184 some of the more peculiar jobs in 1841 included Heddle Maker, Hedger, Muslin Sewer and a Warper.
1841 was also a year of firsts. It witnessed the invention of the world's first camera, and the introduction of the UK's first Christmas tree.
St Kilda, which was still inhabited at the time of the 1841 census, was the only part of Scotland to be omitted from the records. It is not clear if the island was forgotten about or if the Census Regional Manager simply could not face traveling to the remotest part of the British Isles.
This omission was discovered by author and traveler, James Wilson" a year later. He subsequently recorded all of the 105 inhabitants in his book entitled "A Voyage Round the Coasts of Scotland and the Isles" noting that "the whole of the male sex who had attained to and had not passed the prime of life were either practical ornithologists or cragsmen".
Dr. Richard Callison of ScotlandsPeople, said:
"The addition of the 1841 census records to ScotlandsPeople is the latest milestone in our five year project to ensure that millions of pages of Scottish history, which have been preserved for the nation by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) and the Court of the Lord Lyon (CLL) can be accessed online.
"The records offer a truly amazing insight into Scotland's past and, as well as accessing the records of their ancestors, visitors can also view the entries of some of Scotland's most famous sons, such as Rabbie Burns, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Harry Lauder."
Duncan Macniven, Registrar General for Scotland, added:
"Since its launch, ScotlandsPeople has been hugely successful, especially over the course of the past two years during which time there has been an explosion of interest in genealogy. Making available the 1841 census marks the completion of our project to provide online access to all of the Victorian censuses of Scotland. Our work will not end there, as later this year we intend to add to the website images of the Old Parish Records of Scotland."
The website was originally launched in 2002, was re-launched in 2005 and is the result of a partnership between the General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon enabled by IT company Scotland Online. ScotlandsPeople contains the most comprehensive online set of family history information for any country in the world and is currently one of the largest single information resources on the web.
The site has proved popular with both home-based and exiled Scots from America, Canada and Australia who are seeking basic information on their background or carrying out in-depth research on their family tree.
ScotlandsPeople also includes a number of free features, including a free surname search where visitors can see how many entries there are under their name in the indexes.
Amongst the GROS material available are the indexes to the Old Parish Registers from 1553, indexed digital images of the statutory registers of births for Scotland, 1855-1905, the statutory registers of deaths for Scotland, 1855-1955 , the statutory registers of marriages for Scotland, 1855-1930 and census data from 1841 to 1901. Wills and Testaments from 1513 to 1901 from the National Archives of Scotland are also available.