National Archives selects ScotlandOnline for online census project

The National Archives has selected ScotlandOnline as its partner in a project to put the 1911 census for England and Wales online.

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The National Archives has selected ScotlandOnline as its partner in a project to put the 1911 census for England and Wales online.

The paper records of the 1911 census, containing information on the 35 million people then living in England and Wales, currently take up 2km of shelving at the National Archives. The data includes more than 8m “householders’ schedules” completed by individual residents and 38,000 summary books compiled by the census enumerators.

The scale of the digitisation project is huge, with the digitised data expected to amount to 500 terabytes – enough to fill 800 tapes. Scanning in preparation for digitisation is expected to create 18m images – 14 times the number of images created for the digitisation of the 1901 census, which was made available online in 2002.

The 1911 census data will be made available online in stages from 2009, starting with major cities. Sensitive data will be blacked out in line with a ruling by the Information Commissioner’s Office in December, which maintains the longstanding government commitment to keep personal information provided for the census confidential for 100 years.

The entire 1911 census will be made available from 3 January 2012, allowing researchers and members of the public to search the data by name, address or National Archives reference, and to download high-resolution digital images.

National Archives chief executive Natalie Ceeney said: "The 1911 census holds more information than the 1901 census. It is also the first census where the householder’s schedule has remained the master entry, rather than the enumerator’s notes, so researchers are actually able, in most cases, to view their actual ancestors’ handwriting when looking at 1911 census entries.”

Over the past five years the National Archives has digitised over 90% of the most popular documents in its largely paper-based collection, including the Domesday Book. It is aiming to digitise more than 100m pages by 2012.

Scotland Online has previously worked with the General Register Office for Scotland to publish almost 50m pages of historical records.

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