FFHS-NEWS 1911 Census Infirmity column now available
News from the Federation of Family History Societies
ffhs-news at ffhs-lists.org.uk
Fri Jan 6 10:41:35 CET 2012
Thank you to Amy Sell of Findmypast for the following press release.
PICTURE OF LIFE IN 1911 IS COMPLETED AS REMAINING 1911 CENSUS RECORDS GO ONLINE
The ‘infirmities’ column is released online for the first time, detailing people’s health conditions
‘Lunatic’ and ‘imbecile’ popularly used, reflecting a different kind of society
Unusual entries: ’old age’, ‘voteless’, ‘bald’ and ‘short of cash’
Thefinal, missing column of data from the 1911 census, which detailsindividuals’ infirmities is today released for the very first time at www.findmypast.co.uk and www.1911census.co.uk,the family history websites which first launched the 1911 census threeyears ago in 2009 in association with The National Archives.
Theinfirmity column details wide-ranging descriptions of peoples’ healthconditions as perceived and hand-written by the head of the householdon the night of Sunday 2 April 1911. Under data protection regulations,this sensitive information has remained closed until now.
A less ‘politically correct’ society
‘Lunatic’,‘imbecile’ and ‘feeble-minded’ are some of the most commonly usedentries reflecting an era before such terminology was deemedunacceptable. The census in fact prompts the respondent to record if aperson is ‘totally deaf’, ‘deaf and dumb’, ‘totally blind’, ‘lunatic’,‘imbecile’ or ‘feeble-minded.’
5 most common ‘infirmities’ recorded in 1911:
Deaf and dumb
However,not all the entries are negative or insensitive. The 1911 records alsoreflect the humour and curious family dynamics from a century ago - nottoo dissimilar to what we know now in 2012. One extraordinary recorddetails a Mr John Underwood from Hastings recording his children as‘quarrelsome’, ‘stubborn’, ‘greedy’, ‘vain’ and ‘noisy’. He evenrecords himself as ‘bad-tempered’ and his wife as suffering from a ‘long tongue’.
Anotherunusual entry is from Thomas Wallace Young, who was described as being‘bald and toothless’, helping us picture exactly what he looked like.William Robert Arnold from Yorkshire commented on his financial statusin 1911 by recording his infirmity as being ‘short of cash’.
Suffragette labels ‘voteless’ as her infirmity
The cause of the suffragettes is also illustrated within the new records, with some women listing their infirmitiesas not having the vote or not being enfranchised. For example, fourwomen living in the same household recorded their infirmities as‘voteless, therefore classed with idiots and children’.
Infirmities? ‘None, thank God’
Somechose to make a note of their good health instead of the healthproblems the form enquired about, such as ‘well’, ‘healthy’, ‘sane’,‘alright’ and even ‘perfect’. Evelyn Baker and her family from Leedswere recorded in the census by their father Addiman Parkin Barker assimply being ‘alive’. Seventy-two entries simply say ‘none, thank God’.
10 unusual infirmities in the records:
Bald and toothless
Short of cash
Connections between infirmity and profession
Acorrelation between infirmity and occupation can also be identified insome cases. The biggest source of employment for blind men and womenwas basket-weaving. Other trades for blind men were musicians ormusical instrument makers. Women who were ‘deaf and dumb’ were oftenemployed within the textile or garment trades, or in domestic service,while men were most likely to be labourers.
Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said:“The infirmities column is the last piece of the jigsaw completing the1911 census. This column alone provides a fascinating insight into lifea hundred years ago. It not only reflectshealthconditions, but also a time before society became aware ofpolitical-correctness and certain terminology was deemed acceptable. Inthe more unusual entries we also get a wonderful sense ofpost-Edwardian humour, society and family dynamics at this time.
“Researchingyour family history is a fascinating way to learn about your ancestors.The 1911 census records include detail about occupations, housingarrangements and social status and you are also able to see a copy ofthe handwritten record itself.”
Audrey Collins, Family History records specialist at The National Archives, said:“The information in the ‘infirmities’ column being released today helpsadd an extra dimension to the picture of our ancestors’ lives in 1911.We have to remember that the census returns were completed by relativesliving in the same house who for the most part had no specialistmedical knowledge. Their descriptions provide us with a clue as to howeach individual was viewed by other family members, although many wouldhave been reluctant to admit that their relatives suffered from anydefect.”
FFHS Archives Liaison Officer
archives.liaison at ffhs.org.uk
The Federation of Family History Societies is a Company Limited by Guarantee
Company Number 2930189 (England & Wales) - Registered Charity Number 1038721
Registered Office: Artillery House, 15 Byrom Street, Manchester, England M3 4PF
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the ffhs-news