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Making sense of the census

Census returns provide a fantastic snapshot into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and make a brilliant starting point for any local history study. You can also use them for a whole range of activities with your class – not only History, but Maths and creative writing.

Census returns are essentially big lists of everyone in the country, recording where they were living, how old they were, what their job was, and where they were born. They have been taken every 10 years since 1841, and the latest available is 1911 (the next one will be in 2021).

These teachers’ notes include:

  • Background information on the census
  • Ideas for using the census with your class
  • How you can find your local census returns
  • Sample worksheet for a simple statistics activity

Download Using the census – notes for teachers

What do you think?

We would really appreciate hearing from teachers and students who use our resources; how did you use them, and is there anything you think we could add or improve? We’d love to hear your comments, so do please get in touch with us on