“1881 British Census Available on CD-ROM,” Ensign, July 1999, 76–77
After more than two and a half million hours of volunteer labor, the Church has released a 25-disc CD-ROM package containing genealogical information for 30 million individuals in England, Wales, and Scotland from the 1881 British census. “The story behind this project is one of tremendous individual participation, the cooperation of literally thousands dedicated to the creation of the most complete, complex, and largest census database ever created to date,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Seventy, executive director of the Family History Department.
Begun in September 1987, the automated index is the result of a collective effort by about 10,000 volunteers from the United Kingdom’s Federation of Family History Societies and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every effort was made to reproduce the information as it was originally recorded by the British census takers in 1881; even obvious errors were left to allow users to make their own evaluation of the information.
“Each page of the census—over one million pages—was transferred to microfilm and photocopied,” said Richard E. Turley Jr., managing director of the Family History Department. He explained that each piece of census information was then painstakingly copied twice by transcribers, often from almost illegible photocopies or microfilm, and checked for accuracy several times prior to entry on computers. During the project, 369 computers were employed and 11,266 floppy disks containing census information were submitted.
The 25-disc census includes an 8-disc national index and also a viewer that allows users to quickly search the entire database of 30 million names. To make the census indexes more manageable and easier to use, the data is divided into eight regions: East Anglia, Greater London, Midlands, North Central, Northern Borders and Miscellany, Southwestern, Scotland, and Wales and Monmouth. The automated index includes people who were working or traveling on boats or ships or who were living in poorhouses, mental institutions, workhouses, schools, hospitals, and other nontraditional residences at the time the census was taken.
The census is available for purchase in its 25-disc entirety ($33 U.S., item no. 50169) or as separate regional discs through Church distribution outlets; copies may also be ordered by calling 1-800-537-5971 in the United States or visiting www.familysearch.org. Computer system requirements are: Pentium processor (or equivalent); Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0+; 8 MB RAM minimum (16 MB recommended); CD-ROM drive (8x recommended); SVGA monitor with 256-color-capable video card; and 25 MB available hard disk space. For more information, contact Family History Support via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1-801-240-2584 or 1-800-346-6044.