Thursday, October 18, 2007

Occasional notes No 4 - Header Data

Along the top of each page of the enumerator's books is a lot of interesting information. The amount and type varies from census to census; there is very little in 1841. At the start of each enumeration district, there is also a page that records a description of the district including the registration district and sub-district names plus its number. Very little of this information is recorded by Free Census.

The reason we don't record it is due to the limitations of the original programme, INCENS, written back in 1999. There wasn't, it seems, space to record everything. So, from the district description page, we record only the ED number. From the individual page we record the folio number, page number, civil parish and ecclesiastical parish. Page numbers are printed within the page frame, top right or left. Folio numbers are stamped top right on every other page, top right and usually outside the frame. Each two pages are in fact the front and back of one page. So pages without folio numbers take the number of the preceding page. If a page is blank, then leave a note against the last record of the preceding page. This procedure is also followed if a page is missing. You don't have to do this with blank pages at the end of a district.

Returning to the lead-in page. Although we don't record the district description, it is worth volunteers transcribing it, because it is often better written and gives addresses that are used later on. Having worked out what it says, take a look at a map of the district and try and match up what is written with the map. The ED numbers on this page vary a lot. They might just be 1 or 2; or 1A, 2B, or something entirely different. Up to 3 numbers and one letter can be recorded for Free Census. If there are more (some 1851 ED numbers are 1ac and so on, then just input what you can, and leave a note. Free Census also has a system of ED suffixes. These identify certain types of returns and the numbering system has been lifted from the 1861 census instructions. If you have an ED number 1A, then the "A" is replaced by the appropriate number when necessary. According to Free Census, only those returns in institutional books get the suffix numbers. The COCP disagrees with this, and we give them for all institutions. One reason for this is that the census takers themselves didn't always stick to the rules about institutional books and the returns appear in the normal books.

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