FreeCEN is a free to view, online database of 19th century English Census returns. It is transcribed by volunteers and while coverage of England is patchy, more Census returns are being transcribed. You can see up to date database coverage here: FreeCEN Database Coverage by Year and Area
Searching is very easy and there are several options you can use when searching, including by surname, forename, birth year range, birthplace, census county, census place and census year. You can also search for nearby places and use name Soundex.
Let's do a basic search for William George Shakespeare in Warwickshire.
After clicking search you will be presented with the search results:
Clicking the View button will take you to the transcription page for that record. Let's look at View 3 1891 Census for William George Shakespeare in Aston, Warwickshire.
Generating the Citation
At the top of the transcription page you will notice a row of buttons, the last one being the Generate Citation button:
Clicking on the Generate Citation button will open up another row of buttons where you can choose what type of citation you want, click on the WikiTree button and it will auto-generate a full citation, including the permalink back to the transcript page. Clicking copy will copy the citation to your clipboard, you can then paste the citation directly into the WikiTree profile that you are researching.
FreeCEN currently have a problem with their auto-generated citations, all the citations are generating with the title "Scottish General Register Office"
Everything else in the citation is correct. FreeCEN is aware of the issue and working on resolving it. In the meantime, you will need to replace the title ("Scottish General Register Office") with "England and Wales"
FamilySearch is a free to use genealogy website. It is the largest genealogy organisation in the world, operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You will need to create a free account to use the site if you do not already have one.
There are many ways of searching within FamilySearch, which will be covered in this guide.
As you can see there are a lot of results. Let's narrow those down a bit by changing a few things in the search criteria.
We will look for Census information. We can restrict records by type and change the search criteria by using the options listed on the left-hand side of the page.
As Joseph's mother would appear in her married name on any censuses for Joseph we will delete his mother's maiden name from the search We can also delete Joseph's spouse Elizabeth's maiden name from the search, as any census records for Joseph and Elizabeth would be in her married name.
Now to repeat the search with the new criteria and with the search results restricted to return census, residence and lists.
We now have just four results, three of which look very promising. Notice the tabs at the top of the search results page.
We are currently viewing Records, but you can also switch to the Collections tab to search within a collection of records.
Locating the Citation
Clicking on the little page icon under View will open that record page to view the transcription and the record details. Let's view the 1881 census record:
On the right-hand side of the page is the record information, the Document information has a little arrow next to it. Clicking on the arrow will open the Document information and display the citation for that record.
You can copy this citation, as highlighted in the image above and paste it as a full citation on the Wikitree profile you are researching.
If you wish to cite the same census transcript for the other people mentioned in the census, you can click on their names on the transcription and it will automatically take you to the document page for that person. It is also worth noting that just under the document information is a list of Similar Historical Records. They are always worth checking out.
From the amended search we found the 1871, 1881, 1901 census records for Joseph Shakespeare, but we are missing the 1891 census which we located on FreeCEN.
Let's search within the England 1891 Census collection. To do this click hover over Search at the top of the page and a drop-down menu will appear. Click on Records.
You will now be taken to the main search page on FamilySearch. From here there are many ways of searching which are discussed in the video at the end of this guide.
We will be searching within the England 1891 Census.
Scroll to the bottom of the search page where it says Collection Title and start typing the name of the collection you wish to search, in this case, England 1891
The name of record collections with those words in the title will pop up. Clicking on the collection name will take you to a new search page where you can enter the details you wish to search for.
Sometimes less is more, especially when searching for records. Let's change the birthplace for Joseph from Birmingham, Warwickshire to just Birmingham.
We know from the 1891 census transcript on FreeCen that Joseph's wife was recorded with her middle name, Jane. People often changed between using first names, nicknames and middle names, so if a record hasn't come up in the search results, try changing the first name to the middle name, or using wildcards to locate different variations of a name.
Clicking on search will now search within that collection.
And here we have the missing 1891 census record for Joseph.
FamilySearch Advanced Searches
There are many other ways of searching within FamilySearch, including searching through images that have not yet been transcribed. You will need to view the images to locate these records, but it is a lot easier than it sounds and you don't have to view thousands of images to locate the correct record for your ancestor. This handy video explains how to locate those elusive records in FamilySearch.
- Login to request to the join the Trusted List so that you can edit and add images.
- Private Messages: Contact the Profile Managers privately: Maureen Wilkins, I. Speed, Jo Fitz-Henry, Ann Browning, and England Project WikiTree. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
- Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
- Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)