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A Guide to Tracing Your Family History using the Census (Paperback)

British History Family History P&S History 20th Century 19th Century

By Emma Jolly
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526755223
Published: 17th August 2020


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The census is an essential survey of our population, and it is a source of basic information for local and national government and for various organizations dealing with education, housing, health and transport. Providing the researcher with a fascinating insight into who we were in the past, Emma Jolly’s new handbook is a useful tool for anyone keen to discover their family history. With detailed, accessible and authoritative coverage, it is full of advice on how to explore and get the most from the records.

Each census from 1841 to 1911 is described in detail, and later censuses are analysed too. The main focus is on the census in England and Wales, but censuses in Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are all examined and the differences explained. Particular emphasis is placed on the rapidly expanding number of websites that offer census information, making the process of research far easier to carry out. The extensive appendix gathers together all the key resources in one place.

Emma Jolly’s guide is an ideal introduction and tool for anyone who is researching the life and times of an ancestor.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a brilliant resource for all the census (and more) when tracing your family history. Although I have a good knowledge of the census, this book gave me even more resources and avenues to follow.

Highly recommended to anyway who wants to understand the census more with a view to tracing their family tree.

NetGalley, Trudie Moore

If it has been a long time since you read a book about the census then Emma Jolly's book would be a very sound choice – you'll not only discover new facts about these key records, if you’re anything like me you'll also be reminded of many things that you've forgotten!

Read the full review here

Lost Cousins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a really good resource to have if you are thinking about tracing your family history. I also thought that it gave a good account of the history of the census.

NetGalley, Julie Hosford

The links in this books at first class and the author has done an absolutely fantastic job in writing and research that it is ‘Bible’ for Genealogy. Now yes, the vast majority of links are through the internet, but there is postal/written help. The book contains an excellent notes, glossary, appendix and archival section at the back of the book. The book also contains many picture/photograph information which help form the guide and makes things a lot easier, especially for the older reader who might not be as tech savvy as younger readers. An excellent 5 star book added to the stable.


Read the full review here

UK Historian

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A comprehensive guide to the historical population census of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The first chapter offers a thorough review of the historical reasons for a census being taken from ancient times to pre WWII. Each subsequent chapter focuses on a population census taken in the UK from 1801 to 1945 by first explaining the historical context, followed by a full description of the details included in the census. Care is taken to orient the reader to the counties and parishes included in each census. Sections of each chapter include finding aids and up to date online resources with web addresses. The problems or drawbacks of each census are also discussed. Overall, an excellent resource for genealogists researching their English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh ancestors.

NetGalley, Nydia Hanna

For family historians a really good reference book which gives plenty of insights into getting the most out of census records. It answers many questions that you come across in the search through the records and is well worth having on your bookshelf.

NetGalley, Gordon Jefrries

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I felt that his book is a great resource for tracking UK census data and a wonderful tool for anyone looking for their UK ancestors.The instructions for analyzing and understanding each type of census and how to glean the most information out of it was well thought out and easy to use.

NetGalley, Dale Dewitt

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I eagerly look forward to any new Pen and Sword publications as I know how beneficial they have been to my family history research.
I have found Emma Jolly particularly informative in her past works and this is no exception. Even as someone who has been compiling their family tree for a while now I seem to find something of use in every new publication.
A definite recommendation to anyone wanting to improve their knowledge using the essential tool of censuses.

NetGalley, Alison Bevington
 Emma Jolly

About Emma Jolly

Emma Jolly is a professional genealogist who deals with a wide range of family history research. She is an expert on genealogical problem solving, and she has made a special study of the British in India. She writes regularly for family history publications. Her most recent books are Family History for Kids, Tracing Your British Indian Ancestors and My Ancestor Was a Woman at War: A Guide to Sources for Family Historians.

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