Our Next Meeting:
Feb 18, 2017
Presentation: Stephen Young
The British 1881 Census Indexing Project: A Window Into the Past
The regular monthly meetings of the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group are held on the second Saturday of each month, except December, from 9 AM to noon. The meetings are free and open to the public. They are held at the Red Brick LDS Chapel, 4050 North 650 East (Timpview Drive), Provo, Utah, usually in the Cultural Hall. If you would like to receive email notification of classes planned for the next meeting, go to our blog page for instructions on how to subscribe.
This presentation provides a review of the huge pioneering indexing project, the first of its size and scope, and the benefits and cautions of conducting research in this and other 19th century census records. The context of life in the British Isles in 1881 will be considered, as well as some strange and entertaining entries from the actual census.
In 1987 executives of the LDS Family History Department met in London, England with the British Genealogical Record Users Committee (BGRUC), an ad hoc group composed of organizations committed to providing access to and preservation of genealogical and historical records. A proposal was made and accepted to index the 1881 census, the latest census released at that time for public research (1891, 1901 and 1911 now available). On the night of Sunday, April 3rd, 1881 the entire population of England, Wales and Scotland, as well as the inhabitants of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, paused to pose for a collective portrait. The image they left does not record individual countenances, but fortunately for the millions of their descendants, it does preserve equally important features of each person who managed to be included in the depiction. This virtual snapshot in history includes over thirty million people. Queen Victoria was in the 44th year of a 63-year reign; William Ewart Gladstone’s second term as a liberal prime minister had recently begun; one in every seven Britons lived in London; a labourer’s weekly wage was eighteen shillings (about 90p); compulsory education for children, 5 to 13, had only recently been legislated; and work on the Channel Tunnel was begun at Folkestone but stopped again after only 879 yards. Individual entries discovered in the census can be both amusing and poignant: consider the wife described as “Minds her own business,” the 30-year-old unmarried son of Harriet Faucet, named “Kitchen,” or seven-month-old Mary Cooper “found on a doorstep.
Bio: Stephen C. Young, AG, born and raised in London, Ontario, Canada, has researched his family history since the late 1970s. He earned a BA at Brigham Young University in Family and Local History (1985) and an MA in American History (emphasis in Public History) at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (1990), and completed some doctoral work at Wayne State University in Detroit. An employee of FamilySearch since 1988, Stephen has enjoyed several assignments during this time: in the Family History Library administration, and a four year appointment (1992-1996) in England supervising the British 1881 Census Project (pre-Internet indexing), and now currently as an Assistant Chief Genealogical Officer and project manager. His genealogical research accreditation in English Canadian research has been active with ICAPGen since 1989. He and his wife, Michelle, live in Provo and have five children with the last still at home, a sophomore at Timp View HS.
The following classes are scheduled after the main presentation this month.
1) Q&A: The British 1881 Census Indexing Project (Stephen Young — Cultural Hall)
2) Family History Guide Examples and Applications (James Tanner — Relief Society Room)
3) Ask An Expert – Personal Help (Don Engstrom & John Blake — Computer Room)
4) Video: What is the Office of Chief Genealogical Officer (Room 8 — South Hall)