Does anyone know what it means by Institution on a Census record would be?

+4 votes

On a few of the Census records I have seen at the bottom it written Affiliate Record Type: Institution. I am wondering what type of Institution it would be?


in Genealogy Help by Sarah Black G2G6 Mach 1 (13.2k points)
it could mean a mental hospital, depending on location and year. it could be for the bling, mental, TB. etc. or just plain for someone no one wanted or could take care of.

hope this helps,

Lilly Anderson G2G6
"...could be for the bling", eh? LOL

It could also be a workhouse.  Don't be fooled if you come across pages where the people are called "Inmates" - it's not necessarily a prison, it's the workhouse! (Mind you, the one in Plymouth was on "Prison Road", and from what I understand many workhouses were no better than prisons.)
Ros is right. There was a workhouse in St. Leonard's Shoreditch. See
I agree, Ros. An excellent point. Another thing I've found in records here in Transylvania County, NC, are the court declarations of insanity. Turns out that the term doesnt mean "insane" the way we normally think of it today, a person not in touch with reality. It came from a broader saense, generally meaning people who were incompetent to care for themsevles or possibly in some stage of dementia. We have to be careful of the changes in meaning of terms used long ago.
Humm, interesting, I did not know shoreditch workhouse was made up of old houses, this could explain it!

Ros can you make out his profession in the ancestry image?
He's a 'something' vellum binder.  I would guess 'Journeyman' - looks like that's how the enumerator does his letter Js.

3 Answers

+11 votes
Best answer
Its possibly a mistake on familysearch, and to be fair the transcription on ancestry isn't spot on either. In the 1841 census the enumorator just wrote the name of the road on the first house, seperate dwellings are marked with a double slash between terraced houses and where more than one family shared a house a single slash was used to denote a shared residence. This was not uncommon. These little terraced houses were often split into 2 parts either front and back or top and bottom.

The image of the document shows Nathaniel and Elizabeth Francis living with children Nathaniel and Edward, also 15 year old Lucy Caly (maybe a cousin or sibling who helps with the children?). The other people named come after the single slash and are unrelated.

I can't make our his profession on the image.

One caveat: there was a pub/boarding house on this road called The Bell in the 1840's. There was not a workhouse or hospital of any kind.

Hope this helps!

by Lizzie Griffiths G2G6 Pilot (132k points)
edited by Lizzie Griffiths
Sometimes there were some paupers who were allowed to stay in their own homes and would receive money.
I don't really see the source of the word institution on the pages. Looks like the split homes Liz described.
Thanks Ros, Doug (I had to look up vellum binder, never heard of it before!) I find a lot of 1841 census within English cities are transcribed like this. I read the guidance notes on the 1841 census where it described the use of the single and double slash.

Thanks Pip for best answer :-)
Most people wouldn't know what a vellum binder is. I've studied bookbinding some and knew about the ledger books. Vellum itself is a term used for a paper like material made from animal skins. As an artist, I love working on vellum. Today, it is also used as a term for the finish on paper since real vellum is quite expensive.
@ Doug - 'institution' isn't on the page.  It's on the transcription
Changed to answer
The "institution" is an example of why you also need to read the original and only use transcriptions as a finding aid (when possible).
Thanks Lizzie. That is awesome information. At the moment I can't look at original documents until I go to the library as I can't afford to pay for subscription to any of the genealogy sites.
+6 votes
As the commenters said, it could be a number of things. You should get the actual image and not just the extraction since there is sometimes more info available. The page header might give more info. Also, there are a wide variety of things that were in the institution category. Schools, barracks, hospitals, as wells poor houses/work houses. If it was a large institution, a different form was used. In fact, there is more information. Nathaniel was a J. Vellum Binder. Most of the people living their seem to have professions or be part of a family. My guess is a boarding house.

You can look at the page image at with their free account.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (556k points)
+2 votes
In this case I don't think It is anything  to do with whether the person is living in  an institution or not. Family Search has affiliates such as Find my past who I thought was the affilate for the census ( I certainly think it   seems odd to call it an institution.)

The first page of the enumeration return in this case is a normal ie non institutional one.Its for part of Hoxton Old Town;  enumeration district 3, the schedule on the first page of the enumerators' returns always  lists in detail the streets and parts of streets covered.

The reference for Nathaniel's entry is.
HO107; Piece: 708; Book: 1; Civil Parish: St Leonard Shoreditch; County: Middlesex; Enumeration District: 3; Folio: 44; Page: 23;

The workhouse was in Hoxton New Town and has its own return

HO107; Piece: 707; Book: 9; Civil Parish: St Leonard Shoreditch; County: Middlesex; Enumeration District: St Lukes Workhouse; Folio: 16; .

Here is a record on FS for an inmate in that workhouse

England and Wales Census, 1841," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 13 December 2017), George Abraham, St Leonard Shoreditch, Middlesex, England; from "1841 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast ( : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

The record includes the info that it is an institution ,and at the bottom the same  note about FSearch's affiliate.
by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (487k points)
edited by Helen Ford

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