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Possible Pitfalls in Using the Census

Many people don't realise that the census page images we see are actually transcripts of the household census forms, the details were copied into the books by the enumerators. This provides several opportunities for mistakes to occur, firstly as they tried to decipher the writing on the household forms, which were later destroyed.

Illiterate or barely literate ancestors may not have understood the form or even know with any accuracy the answer to the questions. They may have been suspicious of this government prying into their affairs and been less than honest in their answers. Just as today, a certain percentage manage to avoid being included, either deliberately or accidentally.

With the possibility of errors and misinformation creeping in from the very outset, you should always use your own judgment when assessing the information from the census, it may be completely accurate, but you will often find discrepancies.

Related Website: http://www.londoncensus.co.uk/

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