Students Staff

08 March 2011

The Census is coming: Experts at the University of Essex help mark the historic event

Extract from 19th century Census Enumerator's book

Academics at the University of Essex are supporting events being organised by the British Library to celebrate this year's Census and encourage best practice in using census data for research.

The UK Data Archive based at Essex will be running two study days in London linked to the British Library exhibition Census and Society: Why Everyone Counts which runs from Monday March 7 until Sunday May 29.

The days are aimed at researchers who are either using population data or interested in learning more about census data. UK Data Archive staff have offered advice and support to those developing the exhibition.

Professor Edward Higgs from the Department of History at Essex, who has written extensively on using the census for historical research, will also be speaking at a special evening event on Monday 14 March organised to mark the opening of the exhibition.

At the event titled Broken Down by Age, Sex and Religion: The History of the Census in Britain, Professor Higgs will speak alongside Dr Stephen Thompson from the University of Cambridge and Audrey Collins, family history specialist at the National Archives.

UK Data Archive director Dr Matthew Woollard, who is an expert on the pre-World War Two Census and the collection of population statistics, said: “This exhibition and its related activities will help to demonstrate the importance of the census to the economic and social well-being of the nation."

The University of Essex is renowned for its work on history related data and census material.

Services and projects based at Essex include:

  • The Department of History provides a base for the Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM) Project, which will create a harmonised dataset of the censuses of Great Britain for the period 1851 to 1911.
  • The Centre for Historical Census and Survey Research is also based at the Department of History.
  • The UK Data Archive manages registration for the Economic and Social Research Council’s Census programme along with the website, which gives higher and further education researchers a gateway to Census data from 1971 to 2001.
  • - the Online Historical Population Reports website – is a JISC-funded project that provides access to the complete British population reports for Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1937.
  • The History Data Service at the UK Data Archive collects, preserves and disseminates digital data created by academic historians.
  • The Archive is a lead partner of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, JISC and the University. This role includes providing the ESDS Qualidata service and working with the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) on the ESDS Longitudinal Study.

For more on census experts at Essex see:

The image above shows a page from a 19th century census enumerator's book.  Reference: TNA RG11/20. Image from


Notes to Editors:

For more information from the University of Essex contact Ben Hall in the Communications Office on 01206 874377 or by email:

For more information from the British Library contact: Miki Lentin on 0207 4127112 or 07976 793666 or by email at

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books,

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