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logoProformat News                  ISSN 1833-9514
No 4
June 2006


Web updates
The Lacemakers of Calais in South Australia outlines the story behind and names the passengers to SA on the Harpley, Baboo and Navarino in 1848.

Book now for Graham Jaunay's July seminars:

Tracing your Scottish ancestors (WEA Centre Adelaide - 26 July)

Bookings must be made with the organisers.


A number of readers may not be aware of the strange anomaly that the USA/AUS Free Trade agreement has thrown up. As a condition of the agreement a significant change in copyright rules means that unpublished material now has a perpetual copyright. This means if you find a letter in an archive, you technically cannot photocopy it but have to transcribe it! Strangely if the item had been published, you can copy under fair dealing rules.

1841 Census

The 1841 Census is now online at A free trial is currently available. ScotlandsPeople advise that the 1841 Census for Scotland is also now online.

In this issue:


• Web updates
• July seminars
• Copyright
* 1841 census

Problems with the 1841 Census
in England and Wales


Adelaide Proformat
5 Windana Mews
Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465
Fax: +61 8 8374 4479


Drafting charts
Locating documents
Seminar presentations
Writing & publishing
SA lookup service
Ship paintings

Problems with the 1841 census

Given the 1841 census has become much more accessible, it is timely to reflect on the problems associated with research using this record series:
• The rounding downwards of adult ages can make it difficult to use the census as a source of accurate birth information. People also guessed ages that they were not entirely sure of or deliberately concealed their true age.
• The form required only one entry regarding occupations but. many people had significant secondary occupations that went unrecorded.
• The information required about place of birth was only vague. Birthplaces were often given as ‘in the county’ when they were not, especially among the aged and poor, for fear of being sent ‘home’ if they admitted being an immigrant to the parish.
• People who were out working during the night of the census were mostly left unrecorded.
• As the count was based on households and institutions, the homeless were usually overlooked.
• It can be difficult to work out the relationships in some households where a lot of people had the same surname. You need to be very careful not to make too many assumptions.
• Some opponents to the census gave deliberate misinformation.
• In districts where few people could write, or where opposition was particularly militant, the enumerator often took the easy way out and filled in the forms himself from personal knowledge and guesswork.
• Occupations were often given only for the head of the household and non-related males. Night workers are mostly not enumerated. Birthplaces were sometimes filled with a consistent ‘Y’ for ‘Yes, born in the county’, except for obvious outsiders like clergymen and visiting gentry.

These problems are especially evident in the 1841 census and were exacerbated by community resistance to the new idea of the census. However, all censuses share problems and these will be the topic in the next newsletter entitled: Collective problems with all the Censuse
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