If you are living in the United Kingdom, you are probably aware that the census for 2011 is taking place this weekend, on 27th March.
The census is a survey taken by the government every 10 years to collect information on the population of the United Kingdom. The census began in 1801 but detailed records generally only survive from 1841. Census returns record the names of members of each household, their ages, occupations and places of birth.
Census returns have become a hugely popular and interesting source for historians. Using the census from 1891 we can see who was living at 59 Foregate Street, Chester, just 6 months after the Ryleys and the Reynolds embarked upon their tour of North Wales.
The original census returns are kept in the National Archives, London, and are only made available after 100 years. Denbighshire Archive Service holds microfilm copies of census returns, indexed alphabetically by parish or township. The census returns held at the record office not only cover the parishes of Denbighshire and Flintshire, but also include some parishes from the nearby counties of Meirionethshire, Caernarvonshire, Cheshire, Salop, and Montgomeryshire.
You can also access ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.com free of charge at the record office, which can be used to search census returns online for the whole country.