About the census : Past censuses in England and Wales

The census is a survey that happens every 10 years and gives us a picture of all the people and households in England and Wales. There have been censuses for over 200 years.

The answers from past censuses give us a detailed snapshot of the population in one single moment.

At the Office for National Statistics (ONS), we keep census records secure for 100 years. Only then can future generations see them.

When census data becomes available, you can access it from different places. You can find out more about previous census data and how to access it on the ONS website.

Important information:

Read a summary about the 1961 Census Small Area Statistics in the following section. Find full details in Census unearthed: explore 50 years of change from 1961 on the ONS website.

1961 Census Small Area Statistics

From September 2020 to August 2021, 2,800 volunteers made 5.5 million checks to help turn scans of the 1961 Census Small Area Statistics into digital tables.

This digitised data shows in detail how life in England and Wales changed dramatically between 1961 and 2011.

Using interactive maps, you can explore how areas compared with each other and see what changed in the 50 years up to 2011. Information includes:

  • home ownership
  • number of rooms in a household
  • number of people in a household
  • homes that had an inside toilet
  • number of people aged 16 and over that were divorced
Important information:

Read a summary of the release of 1921 Census information in the following section. Find out more in Census unearthed: Population, widows and orphans in 1921 on the ONS website.

1921 Census records and completed household forms

In January 2022, The National Archives, working with the ONS and Findmypast, gave people online access to the records, including completed household forms, from the 1921 Census.

This information is of special interest because the country was then recovering from the impact of both the First World War and an influenza pandemic.

Taken on 19 June 2021, the 1921 Census collected more details than any previous census. It asked about:

  • age
  • birthplace
  • occupation
  • residence
  • names of householders
  • number of rooms
  • place of work
  • employer details
  • divorce as an option for marital status

The 1921 Census will be the last release of census household returns for 30 years. This is because a fire in 1942 destroyed the household forms from the 1931 Census. Also, the outbreak of the Second World War meant that the 1941 Census never happened.

Find more details on the 1921 Census page of the Findmypast website.

We aim to publish the first census results in early summer 2022.

Accessing historic census records and census data

You can access the historic census records from 1841 to 1921 through The National Archives. Find out how you can access these census records on The National Archives website.

If you want to access data for these censuses, rather than the records themselves, we can help you at the ONS.

While the personal information held on the forms remains confidential for 100 years, data for all censuses from 1801 to 2011 are available online or in printed reports. To find out more about how you can access these data, email our Census Customer Services team at the ONS.