What is a Census?

You may be familiar with the census as a perfunctory task that demands your attention every 10 years, but the information compiled from these records can be vital for helping governments, local councils and other institutions make assessments and wide-reaching decisions about various aspects of society and the country as a whole.

The concept of a census has existed for almost as long as human civilization and can be traced back to Ancient Egypt and other old kingdoms, even featuring prominently in religious texts such as the Bible. Censuses serve the important function of helping to manage population size and keep track of changes over time in various areas, from longevity statistics to changes trends in religious belief and the size of households.

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People who complete censuses can choose to keep their details private or make them publicly available, and if you visit your local library or council building, you may be able to access these public records. There can sometimes be advantages to keeping information such as your address and other contact details private, however, especially when it comes to avoiding unwanted sales calls.

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Censuses used to be analyzed by hand, which could be an extremely time-consuming task in larger populations, but today this has been streamlined with advances in computer technology, such as data capture systems. Not everyone chooses to complete a census, but collecting basic information about most people living in different communities every ten years can provide a valuable snapshot for historians looking back to these records in the future.

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If you’re currently researching your family tree, census records could be among the most important data sources you come across, especially when searching for people further back in time before certain data could be kept private. Many old census records have now been scanned and stored in digital archives for ease of browsing, and using keyword searches can allow you to instantly track down certain people you’re looking for.

Signing up to a dedicated genealogy website can give you access to census data from all over the world and throughout the centuries, and even if you think you know as much as you need to about certain people in your family history, finding out additional details such as the name of a spouse or previously unknown children could open up the possibility of whole new branches on your family tree and the chance to meet living relatives you never knew you had.

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Fiona Roy writes for a digital marketing agency. This article looking at what a census is has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote but should be considered professional content.