Just like here in the US, the United Kingdom also holds a census every 10 years. It started in 1801 and continues to this day.
In the US, we started it a few decades earlier; however, if you can’t find your ancestors online in the earliest census records, it could be because they had not yet made their way to America.
According to historical records, there was a lot of migration from the British Isles to the US in the 1830s and 1840s. So, if your ancestors were part of these migrating groups, it’s a good idea to look for them in earlier UK census records; especially in the 1921 census, since it was more detailed than any previous census and would add a lot of depth to your family tree.
Here’s how you can about your search.
Find the 1921 Census Records
The first step, of course, is to find the 1921 census records. If you’d like to take the online route, then you’ll find the records on Findmypast. Here, you can search the indexes free of cost, but there’s a fee if you want to see the actual images of the records.
The other options you have are mostly free and possibly offline. These involve you making some library visits to find the records on access hubs at the National Archives (London), the Manchester Central Library, or the National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth).
Also, check out your local library since Findmypast has some local library services that may get you closer to the 1921 UK census records.
Use Different Spelling Variations
When you’re looking for an ancestor, you’re likely to start with a name spelling that you already know from other records. However, remember that if you don’t find your ancestor using that spelling right away, it doesn’t mean they’re not part of the census at all.
Many of our ancestors names aren’t always spelled how we expect them to be. Findmypast search features allow you to add multiple name variants; use the option for both last and the first name to make your search easier.
Keep In Mind That Everything Isn’t Always How It Appears To Be
Another thing you’d want to remember is that our ancestors may not have recorded their lives in the censuses exactly as they were. There is always a chance of misrepresentation, either by mistake or on purpose.
For instance, in the 1921 census, some relatives were recorded as visitors. This was because the census instructions for that year asked for relatives visiting on census night to be recorded as visitors (given that they typically lived somewhere else and weren’t really part of the household).
Invest In Family History Research Services to Make Things Easier
If you’re in the US and are trying to research your roots in the UK, there will be geographical limitations. However, that should keep you from discovering your family history, especially not with our online DNA detectives to help you out.