Essex University Project Will Open Up The 1851 To 1911 Census

By Culture24 Staff | 13 January 2009
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Courtesy of the University of Essex

A landmark project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council at Essex University is set to open up the largest collection of census data in the world.

A joint venture between the University’s history department and the UK Data Archive (UKDA) the £1.06 million project will bring together more than 200 million records from the Great Britain census between 1851 and 1911.

Professor Kevin Schurer and Dr Edward Higgs are leading the project, which also has the backing of a number of non-academic partners including, The National Archives, the British Library and the Office for National Statistics.

He said: “These records contain vast amounts of information on every house, household and individual in the country and are the basis of much of our knowledge of changing social and economic structures over this period.

"Bringing all the existing computerised versions of these censuses together will completely transform our ability to research this period.”

I-CeM will bring together computerised versions of the censuses that have been created by public and commercial bodies at a cost over many years of more than 11 million pounds.

“What we are doing is creating a fantastic historical resource for use by UK and international researchers, teachers and students and others for educational purposes, at a fraction of the money that has been spent by others in this field to date," added Professor Schurer. "This will put British social scientific research at the forefront of international efforts in this field.”

For more information on the Economic and Social research council go to

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