Getting the basics right- 1901 & 1911 Census

Searching for your ancestral family in the 1901 Census is easily done and can throw up marvellous nuggets of information  for your ongoing research back through previous generations.

1901 Census

The easiest place to start here is to click on

Fill in the year 1901 and the surname.   Unless you know your ancestor’s formal name e.g. ‘Patrick’, don’t fill in the Forename box.   Many forenames were shortened in Ireland for everyday use e.g. Patrick could have been  known to his family as  ‘Pats’ or ‘Patsy’ , Jeremiah as ‘Darby’ and it is the formal name that will be listed on the Census.   Fill in ‘Kerry’ in the counties box and tick the male or female and that is it.  You don’t need to know the Townland or DED (District Electoral Division).

If you actually have more information available to you, you might tick the ‘Basic’ Search Box and there are any number of options here to help you with the correct identification.  Again unless you are absolutely certain of your facts, don’t tick the Exact Matches Only box.

What to look for and record on 1901 Census  

When you have found your ancestral family, as well as printing off the form, take a screen shot of each of the Census Images available and paste these records into your OneNote file.  Again tick the right hand box Show all information.  You now have full details of everyone in the house, their relationship to the Head of the House, ages, religion, occupation, literacy, Irish language and marital status.   Note both the relationship to the Head of the House and the occupation.  Did the family have servants?  Could the older members read and write?  Did they know both Irish and English?

Form A

Form A does not tell you much more than you already know from the main listing, but if anyone in the household was deaf or dumb, it is noted here

Enumerator’s Abstract (Form N)

You may get extra information on streets and townlands from the heading on this form.

House & Building Return Form

A very valuable research tool.  This return will tell you exactly what type of house your ancestor lived in, how many windows in front, how many rooms, was it thatched or slate.  Most Irish families lived in 3rd class houses, with a few in 2nd class.  You can see all the neighbouring families also on this page and visualise the comparable social standing.

Out Offices & Farm-Steadings

This form will show you the number of out-houses attached to your families’ home.  From this you can deduce the type of farm that your family lived in.  Very few had ‘Coach Houses’ or ‘Harness Rooms’ , almost all had ‘Cow Houses’ but did they keep pigs also or fowl?    And how many outhouses?