National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

1911 Census

1911 Census

The 1911 census was taken on Sunday 2 April under provisions in the Census (Great Britain) Act 1910.  The records were released on 5 April 2011 following the end of their 100 year closure period.

The population of Scotland on 2 April 1911 was 4,760,904. Image of a 1911 census enumeration book cover

The 1911 census records of England, Wales and Ireland are the original schedules as completed by heads of households, institutions and vessels.

The Scottish records are the enumeration books which contain information transcribed from the household schedules as with all previous censuses back to 1841.  They are made available as full colour images.

The Scottish household schedules were destroyed after the completion of work on the census. 

This guide covers:

1911 Census Questions

There were new questions relating to fertility of marriage:  on duration of marriage;  the number of living children born to each marriage;  and the number alive at the time of the census.

There were changes to several others:

  • categories for people with disabilities were revised and the introductory section to the third report on the 1911 census refers to the intended use of the terms as:
    • lunatic - in cases where the infirmity had been acquired during life
    • imbecile - in extreme cases where the infirmity had existed from birth or an early age
    • feeble-minded - in milder cases where the infirmity had existed from birth or an early age. 
  • the question on occupation was extended to find out which industries or services a worker was connected to in addition to their personal profession or occupation
  • the question on place of birth was extended to include nationality for those born in a foreign country, that is, outwith British territory, colonies and dependencies. 

In this example from 1911 census for the district of Eyemouth in Berwickshire (our reference 1911/739/1, page 5) you can see that with the additional columns the entries now span two pages in the enumeration book. Click on image to view the full size.

Image of a page from the 1911 census for Eyemouth in Berwickshire

1911 Census Instructions

The guide ‘Instructions to local officers as to their duties in taking the census’ (pdf) shows that the police were asked to assist with the enumeration of persons in barns, sheds, caravans, tents and in the open air.

Suffragettes were active but the fine of £5 may have deterred them from refusing to take part in the census altogether.  This page from the 1911 census for Gladsmuir in East Lothian (our reference 1911/708/3, page 12) includes an entry for Catherine Blair, founder of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes, who gave her occupation as farmer’s wife (suffragette).

Image of a page from the 1911 census for Gladsmuir in East Lothian

1911 Census Punch Card Tabulation and the Staff Involved

A mechanical system of punch card tabulation was used for the first time.  The Census Office in Edinburgh hired Hollerith machines which had been used successfully in the United States of America for their 1890 census.  This speeded up processing and allowed for the publication of more detailed tables.

Census (Scotland) 1911 - Card Punching Staff – Names and Record of Service (pdf) is taken from the Census Office establishment book (our reference GRO4/27/2). The final entry for the boy messenger, Walter Urquhart, shows that he served as a private in the First World War and had been reported missing in action.  For further information please go to the Gallipoli 28 June 1915 page in the First World War section of this website.

1911 Census Occupations

1911 census report, volume II includes an index to occupations (pages 437-445) which is published on the Online Historical Population Reports (Histpop) website.

1911 Census Street Indexes

Census street indexes provide registration district (RD) and enumeration district (ED) references for each street in a city or urban area.  They also cover institutions such as asylums, hospitals, workhouses, prisons, police stations and barracks as well as hotels and public buildings.

There are 31 street indexes for the 1911 census.  They have been digitised and are made available as pdf files that are several megabytes in size. PDF files require Acrobat Reader. Download Acrobat Reader free Get Acrobat Reader.

If you can’t find a particular street it may not have existed in 1911 or may have had a different name.