What is the Census?

The next Census Day is Sunday, March 21, with the once-in-a-decade survey having taken place every ten years since 1801, with the exception of 1941.

It will be the first to be run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets.

It’s clear that Census 2021 is going to have a big impact on important services over the coming years, but it’s also interesting to note how past census records – from many, many years ago – are continuing to prove useful to lots of people today for an entirely different reason.

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The census and family history research

With TV shows such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ and ‘Long Lost Family’ proving to be more popular than ever, have you ever wondered about your own heritage?

Many celebrities have taken part in the different versions of these shows, including Lionel Richie, J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe, but you don’t necessarily have to apply to a TV show to discover your roots…

Past records are proving invaluable for local people who are spending time to trace back their roots, with one Wrexham resident sharing how the census has massively helped with her research.

The Wrexham resident told us: “When I started doing family history research, I wasn’t really sure how far back I would actually get, as I didn’t know what was out there to help me along the way, but I can’t explain just how important the past census records have been to me along my journey.

“There are so many different lines of my family tree where I’ve been stuck and a census has contained the information I needed. There was one particular line that I was stuck on for ages, and eventually I managed to find what I needed in the 1901 census. Since then, I’ve traced that line of my family all the way back to the 1600’s, which simply wouldn’t have been possible without the census solving that initial hiccup.”

We asked the resident why she thinks it’s important for people to take part in Census 2021, and she explained: “Along with it being your duty to take part, and helping to shape services across the UK, also try to think about your descendants in the years to come who may well be doing their own family history research. After all, we’re part of a generation (the lockdown generation) that people are probably going to want to know all about.”

Interested in doing your own research?

Wrexham Library allows members to access Ancestry and Find My Past, although due to the current situation our all our libraries remain closed for public access. However, library members can get online access to Ancestry from home by clicking here and logging in.

Not a member? Residents can apply to join the library through our website.

Ancestry will let you see census records from 1841-1911 (government policy is that the UK Statistics Authority should retain all census returns for 100 years, so 1911 is the most recent currently available).

About Census 2021

Census day will be on March 21, but households across the country will receive letters with online codes allowing them to take part from early March. Have you had yours yet?

Cllr Hugh Jones, Lead Member for Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety, said: “We are working with the Office for National Statistics to encourage a high participation rate in Census 2021. Nothing else gives so much detail about the society in which we live, helping to make decisions with the potential to transform lives for the better. We strongly encourage Wrexham residents to take part.”

The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Wales, households will also be asked a specific question about their Welsh language skills. And those who wish to complete the census in Welsh can do so both online and in paper form. There are “Cymraeg” and “English” buttons to switch between languages at any time online, and on paper you can use Welsh and English on the same form.

Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.

For more information visit census.gov.uk, or for help completing the census, you can call 0800 169 2021 / (text relay service) (18001) 0800 169 2021.

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