CD-Rom: history of the census

4th May 2001 at 01:00

Counting Heads: an introduction to the Census, Poor Law data and vital registration
By David A Gatley and Paul S Ell
Statistics for Education pound;35 Single user: pound;35 plus VAT plus pound;2 postage Network site licence: pound;75 plus VAT plus pound;2 postage

This well-researched CD-Rom package is based on an extensive database of 19th-century censuses, in a format which is as easy to use in Year 7 as at A-level. With the idiot's guide thoughtfully provided, the data is easy to summon and explore, and on-screen icons allow you to convert tables into graphs or annotated maps.

The whole of the United Kingdom is covered, so you can check the state of literacy or employment, or find out how many people were on parish relief in your particular area at any point in the century.

The potential for social or local history work, whether as a whole-class exercise or an individual study, is enormous. Most refreshingly of all, the authors put the data into context, and give useful advice about how to gauge its accuracy.

Not everyone fills in the census accurately or honestly, many of the enumerators' books were lost or destroyed, and some 19th-century data - such as disability statistics - are so notoriously unreliable that the authors advise users to ignore them, at least for statistical purposes.

  • Our picture shows the registrar general studying public records with a schoolboy before the 1966 census
    • Sean Lang is head of history at Hills Road sixth form college, Cambridge

      A longer version of this review appears in this week's TES Friday magazine

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today