Welcome to the Ancestry Academy…

September is here and children all over the country are heading back to school. It’s the perfect time to dig out your pencil case and do some learning of your own – in the Ancestry Academy! Whether you’re a new starter or a top set whiz kid, this week’s lessons will help you develop your family history skills and make brand new discoveries.

Monday, Third Period, English

Census records: Reading and understanding

Census records form the collated works of your Victorian ancestors’ lives. The details taken every ten years are like packed volumes – reading each one in turn, and understanding what it reveals, is the key to comprehending your family history.

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Top set

If you’ve been discovering your family history for a while, you’ll be very familiar with how to search the censuses. But the latest addition to our collections, the 1911 Census, isn’t yet fully searchable. We’ll look at how to make the most of the scanned record images.

Imagine we’ve found our great-grandparents, Jacob and Annie Fairbrother, living in Beighton, Derbyshire on the 1901 Census. This tells us Jacob was a surgeon born in ‘Ireland’, and they had a nine-month-old daughter named Ileen. Our grandmother Sybil was born some time after that. Could she be on the 1911 record?

  1. Too easy?

    1First we need to find out whether the Fairbrothers were still in the same place. The part of the 1911 collection that is currently searchable is the Summary Books. Simply use Jacob’s name, with Beighton, Derbyshire as a location. The first result is a Mr Fairbrother, living on Queens Road in Beighton with four females.

  2. Too easy?

    2Now we can find their full census record. Start from the 1911 England Census page. Choose ‘Derbyshire’ as the county and ‘Beighton’ as the civil parish. You’ll be given a choice of four enumeration districts. Just click on one to start browsing the records.

  3. Too easy?

    3You can quickly get a good idea whether you’re in the right enumeration district by looking at the addresses at the bottom of the pages. For example, the records in District 4 start in an area called Hackenthorpe – a quick glance at a local map, or a search on Google Maps will tell you that is some way from Queens Road, so is unlikely to be in the same district.

  4. Too easy?

    4The first address in District 1 is on Queens Road, so we know we’re on the right track. Browse through the records using the arrows on the top-right until you come to the correct page. Image 8 shows Jacob Fairbrother living with his wife Annie, a servant and two daughters – the youngest of which is our grandmother, Sybil.

  5. Too easy?

    5While you’re there, take the time to pick out other key details. Sybil was eight years old and born in Beighton, so you could easily find her birth record in the national index. You can also see Jacob’s precise birthplace – Kyle, Roscrea in County Tipperary – which is far more useful than the simple ‘Ireland’ we got from the 1901 Census.

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You can also work the other way around – find someone in the 1911 Census, then go back to 1901 to continue your discoveries. The Fairbrothers’ neighbour in 1911, John Frederick Jackson (shown on Image 10) was living with his wife, father-in-law and sister-in-law. The mother-in-law apparently died before 1911 – can you work back and discover her name?

Note down the answer, and keep it safe until the end of the week – you’ll be tested on your responses on Friday!



Monday's free period

Prize Draw 1

Family Tree Maker

Win 1 of 10 copies of our latest software

Be one of the first people to get your hands
on the new and improved version of our award-winning family history software. It comes complete with improved integration with your Ancestry.co.uk account, advanced charts and reports, interactive timelines and maps, and many more great new features.
We have ten copies ready to be won.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Tuesday’s free period

Prize Draw 2

WDYTYA? magazine

10 subscriptions up for grabs

Trace your family's past and discover your roots with Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Brought to you by the team
behind BBC History Magazine, and the
official companion to the successful TV
series, WDYTYA? magazine's features
range from military to social history, telling
the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people and how they used to live. We have ten subscriptions to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Wednesday’s free period

Prize Draw 3

Worldwide Memberships

Win 1 of 5 annual memberships

Our worldwide membership provides everything you need to trace your family history around the world. Scour the globe
with unlimited access to our entire library
of over 7 billion records, plus guaranteed access to all our new releases. We have
five annual memberships to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Thursday’s free period

Prize Draw 4

National Trust passes

Win 1 of 50 pairs of tickets

We’re working with the National Trust to preserve our nation’s history, and help you uncover your family’s place in it. To
celebrate our partnership, we’re giving away 50 pairs of day passes to the National Trust property of your choice. Don’t miss the
chance to experience the history of Uppark, see the beauty of Fountains Abbey, or visit another of the Trust’s 350 properties.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September