Information about access to census records in Durham County Record Office.
Census records and indexes
We have County Durham census records for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911.
All UK census returns from 1841 to 1911 are on the Ancestry website.
We have census returns for 1841-1901 on microfilm, covering the historic County Durham between the Rivers Tyne and Tees.
About census returns
A census of the population of England and Wales has been taken every ten years since 1801, except in 1941. The first four census returns, from 1801 to 1831, only counted the number of people and did not record details of individuals.
In 1841 the country was divided into enumeration districts and one enumerator was responsible for the collection of the information in each district.
The information was entered on printed schedules and it included details of every person who spent the night of the census in each house.
The schedules (or returns) were designed to give the address of each house, names of the inhabitants, their ages, sex, occupations, and whether or not they had been born in the county in which they were living at the time of the census.
The recording of ages in the 1841 census return can be misleading. Exact ages in years were given for children up to the age of 14 inclusive, but the age of every person over the age of 15 was given to the next lowest multiple of five years, e.g. all those between 45 and 49 were usually described as 45.
In 1851 and all subsequent censuses a similar system was adopted except that the place and county of birth, the exact age of each person and his or her relationship to the head of the household was given.
All census returns are closed to public access for 100 years because they contain confidential personal information.
When was the UK census taken?
Searching the census from home
There are links to all available censuses on The National Archives and Ancestry websites. The 1881 census can also be searched on the FamilySearch website which is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.