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Our census questionnaire arrived this evening. I’m looking forward to filling it in online.

Having spent a couple of years working with the 1911 England & Wales census, I know what a wonderful source of information a census is. From sweeping statistical conclusions drawn across the data set, to personal stories explored through individual entries, a census is a fantastic thing. Make sure you fill in your questionnaire wisely. Your descendants may find delight or despair in your answers in centuries to come.

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It's irritating genealogy people that there is no section for middle names, or even initials. I snuck one middle name and the initial of the second into the First Name area, but there wasn't room for both of them in full. Sometimes the middle name is the only way to track down /which/ 'Margaret Cairns' you are reading about.

The earlier censuses just had a name field, instead of splitting it into first name and surname.

It was much easier for royalty, for the aristocracy, and for nuns, let alone ordinary people with lots of middle names.

This is why I don't understand how some people object to filling it in. It is such a wonderful resource for future generations!

I’ve been getting very annoyed at people protesting against the census because some of the contractors involved are American multinationals that have defence interests. Some people just don’t have a sense of perspective!

There were similar protests against the 1911 E&W census — some suffragettes deliberately spoiled their census forms — which means that potentially interesting records are incomplete.

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