Peter Christian and David Annal have written what appears to be the definitive guide to U.K. census records. This 262-page book not only describes the contents of the U.K. census records, but also provides lots of hints on how to find the records of your ancestors. It also describes methods of searching census records on the various online web sites as well as on CD-ROM disks.
Census: The Expert Guide is published by The National Archives and describes the most popular records held at Kew. The authors are well qualified to write about census records: Peter Christian is a well-known author of many genealogy books, including The Genealogist's Internet, Web Publishing for Genealogy, and Finding Genealogy on the Internet. David Annal is an expert on census and other family history records. He has been employed at the National Archives and Family Records Centre since 1998. He is author of the very successful Easy Family History: The Stress Free Guide to Starting Your Research and Using Census Returns, Pocket Guides to Family History.
Census: The Expert Guide is a one-stop guide that covers everything you need to know about the 1841-1911 censuses in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, from the days of the enumerators knocking on everyone's doors to the modern privilege of internet access.
The book starts with an Introduction that describes census requirements in the U.K. It is then followed by chapters on the following topics:
- The Victorian Census 1841-1901
- The 1911 Census
- Why Can't I Find My Ancestor?
- The Census Online
- Online Search Techniques
- Free Census Indexes Online
- TheGenealogist and RootsUK
- Genes Reunited and 1901censusonline
- The 1911 Census Online
- The Websites Compared
- The Censuses on CD-ROM
- Using the Census on Microfilm
The book ends with a one-page bibliography of other books and websites, followed by an extensive index.
Census: The Expert Guide also has a website at http://www.spub.co.uk/census that both promotes the book and offers updates and additional material, as they become available. I wish that all books had similar websites!
I remember when the 1901 U.K. census went online: it was so popular that genealogists swamped the site's servers and caused them to crash frequently. The 1911 census is expected to be even more popular. However, it is being released in segments, and the servers are expected to handle the load this time. Peter Christian and David Annal provide a rather complete explanation of what you can expect to find in the 1911 census.
I especially like the case studies offered by the authors. They describe several research problems and then provide typical scenarios that show how to solve the problems.
I was also very pleasantly surprised to see the "Websites Compared" chapter as I do not recall seeing anything similar in other books. The authors compared all the websites that offer U.K. census records, with descriptions of coverage, price and payment options, search options, index quality, image quality, and support for full references. The chapter even includes screenshots of images from several of the websites, illustrating the differences in image quality.
Census: The Expert Guide also contains many illustrations, photographs, and screenshots.
I found Census: The Expert Guide to be an excellent introduction and reference book. Spending a bit of time with this book first can save you many frustrating hours online or when reading microfilm. Not only is this book a time saver, but Census: The Expert Guide is also a great reference book. This book will help you discover how to get the very best from online research, selecting the most useful websites and best quality images, as well as the experts' techniques for searching original records, on microfilm, CDs, and DVDs.
Census: The Expert Guide is available for £14.99 at http://www.spub.co.uk/census. It also may be found at nearly all the online bookstores in the U.K. and the U.S. if you search for ISBN 1905615345.