A census is the determination by an official body of the size of a population of a certain area, most often a country, while at the same time certain other traits are investigated such as age, sex, religion, family situation, profession, etc.
In older times, the work was done by civil servants going from door to door.
Nowadays, many countries no longer organize censuses due to the widespread adoption of identity cards, giving the government all the data it needs. However, previously, a census was of great importance for the organizing authority to determine the size of a constituency, and hence, the amount of taxes collectable.
A census is of great value for genealogical research, being carried out at regular intervals (typically every 10 years), and all family members were documented. This allows to accurately track movements and family changes. However, genealogists view censuses as secondary [[sources]] of information; primary sources of information such as [[birth certificate]]
s and even obituaries are viewed as more reliable. Still, census information often provides useful information for genealogists and clues on where to proceed to find further primary source documentation.
Researchers must use care when working with census records. Census taker handwriting varies from excellent to illegible. Information may be inaccurate due to spelling variants by the recorder. Some information, especially ages, may be incorrect due to vanity or confusion on the part of the information provider. Birthplaces may not be accurate depending on which family member gave the information. With these and other cautions in mind, census records can be very informative and useful.
Through History ==
=== Ancient History ===
Indexes to some of the U.S. Censuses have been produced over the years, making the process of searching old census records much easier. Now, some are available online.
=== UK census 1881 ===
[[Image:Census image 1.png|thumbnail|The Census return for John Martin in 1881]]
*[[Recording_French_Census_data| Recording French Census data with GRAMPS]]
External Links and sources ==
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census Wikipedia Census]
eng/ search/ RG/ guide/England5.asp#census UK census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/search/ RG/ guide/ Canada3.asp#census Canadian census]** [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/ search/ RG/ guide/ Quebec3. asp#census Quebec census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/search/ RG/ guide/ France6.asp#census French census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/ search/ RG/ images/34061_Germany05.pdf German census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/search/ RG/ guide/ Scotland6.asp#census Scottish census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/search/ RG/ guide/ Sweden3.asp#census Swedish census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/search/ RG/ guide/ Ireland7.asp#census Ireland census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/ search/ RG/ guide/Italy5.asp#census Italy census]* [http://www.familysearch.org/ eng/ search/ RG/ guide/Usout5.asp#census US census]* [ http:// www.familysearch.org/ Eng/ Search/ census/ search_census.asp 1880 US census and 1881 censuses of Canada and the UK at familysearch.org]
* [http://automatedgenealogy.com Canadian censuses of 1851-1852, 1901, 1906 and 1911 at automatedgenealogy.com]
* [http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/index-e.html Census Research Tools at the Canadian Archives]