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Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM)

Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM)

The history of British census taking

A census of the population of the United Kingdom (in its various forms) has been taken every ten years since 1801 with only three exceptions: no census was taken in Ireland in 1921 which became an independent nation later that year, war prevented any enumeration in 1941, and the census of Scotland for 2021 was delayed to 2022. From 1841, direct individual responses were sought from each household in the nation rather than merely trusting local dignitaries to compile data themselves, a format which has been maintained through the subsequent 180 years of census taking though in far from a uniform manner.

Those interested in the general progression of the history of British census taking, covering its late eighteenth-century origins through to the development of the 1920 Census Act may find this long-form essay of interest:

The history of British census taking - Higgs & Schürer (2013)

History of individual censuses relevant to I-CeM

Understanding the unique circumstances and formulation of each census is imperative for those seeking to properly deploy I-CeM data. Until 1920, all censuses were passed as unique pieces of legislation and were thus their structure was subject to the concerns of the day within the General Register Office, Parliament, or wider public clamour.

Below, users can find links to short histories of each census covered by I-CeM, particularly that of 1921 (representing the most recent addition to I-CeM and arguably the first "modern" census).

  • 1851 - Higgs & Schürer (2013)
  • 1861 - Higgs & Schürer (2013)
  • 1871 - Higgs & Schürer (2013)
  • 1881 - Higgs & Schürer (2013)
  • 1891 - Higgs & Schürer (2013)
  • 1901 - Higgs & Schürer (2013)
  • 1911 - Higgs & Schürer (2013)
  • 1921 - Wakelam (2024)