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Article posted: June 25, 1999
1881 British Census on CD-ROM
By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles
The Latter-day Saints Church has issued the 1881 British census on CD-ROM. Instead of having to search through piles of microfilm, you can now use your computer to do the searches quickly and easily.
The set of disks comes with the census broken up into regions, one big A-Z index, and a disk with the software for viewing it all. The whole is packaged in an attractive binder for storage, and the amazing thing is that it is available for US$33.00.
The Federation of Family History Societies in Britain, which created the index over several years and issued it on microfiche, has given permission for this new version. It is only available directly from the LDS in Salt Lake City.
I tried it out and found it very easy to use. I installed the software which comes with it, and then put in the disk which included Devonshire. I began by looking for people whose names I knew. They were simple to find. The information given includes the whole household where the individual you are searching for lives, with birthplaces, ages and relationship to head of family.
I then tried some more complex searches. It is possible to limit the searches by approximate birth year and by birthplace. This way you can search for someone with a common name but narrow the search results.
Better yet, it is possible to search for a woman using only her first name and birthplace or age. This way, you can locate someone whose married name you do not know.
My Cooper relations all came to Canada in the early 1870s, except for one sister. I assumed she had died or moved away, but was never sure. Using the new index, I was able to find her by doing a search using her first name, age and birthplace. She popped up, married, in a town about thirty miles away! I still have to confirm that she is the right one by obtaining a marriage certificate, but I have no doubt I have solved that mystery.
The CD-ROM set of the 1881 census requires a Pentium processor with Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0+, 8 MB RAM (minimum, 16 recommended), a CD-ROM drive (8x recommended), SVGA monitor with 256 colour-capable video card and 25 MB hard disk space.
To order, consult the LDS website at www.familysearch.org. For me, this is the genealogical publication of the year.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has made its files available on the Internet. The CWGC is in charge of the cemeteries worldwide where soldiers killed in the two world wars are buried.
The new website makes available information on the Commission, but also has a register of all those who died, with data about their burial. It is as simple as typing in their name and nationality, although they do warn that the information you give must be accurate or you will not get a satisfactory response.
I tried to find my great-uncle Bob Crouse from Oshawa. I had recently seen his page in the memorial book at the Oshawa library. It did not give any idea where he died or was buried. The CWGC site quickly brought up the text of his gravestone and information about the cemetery where he is buried in Italy, and a short history of the battle in which he died. Most of the text which they printed will go directly into my family history, with proper credit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
You can find the site at www.cwgc.org. One warning: they are having about 600,000 hits a week at the site, so response time is very slow and you may have to try more than once to get through. Be patient and don't give up.
Books By Ryan Taylor
Across The Waters, Ontario Immigrants Experiences 1820 - 1850 - by Frances Hoffman & Ryan Taylor, 1999. Riveting first-hand accounts of the immigration and settlement experience, taken from the diaries and letters of 150 immigrants.
Routes To Roots, The Best of Ryan Taylor's columns from the Kitchener Waterloo Record, by Ryan Taylor 1997
More Family History Research Resources