Photo: Henley British School staff and pupils 1895 (Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive)
Before the 19th century no single historical source gives a systematic overview of population, employment or social structure, whether in towns and villages, or at national level. From 1801, however, we have the national censuses taken every ten years, by which governments kept track of changes in demography, employment, and society.
In the 19th century information was gathered by enumerators who visited every household in a given area, entering information on official forms in (theoretically) a standardised way. The resulting data was summarised in Parliamentary Reports. From 1841 onwards the enumerators' books themselves survive, listing the occupants of every house with their name, age, family relationship, employment, place of birth, and a range of other information.The statistical possibilities of this information are almost endless, encompassing family organisation, migration, public health, fertility and economic change. Evidence for particular places can be related to the national picture in ways not always possible for earlier periods, while at local level, censuses allow us to build up a detailed picture not only of particular towns but of particular streets or areas within them, seeing how their character changed over time.
The original enumerators' books are preserved in The National Archives at Kew, and are released for research after 100 years. TNA and most local studies libraries have microfilm copies. For Oxfordshire, most censuses from 1841 to 1901 are available on CD from the Oxfordshire Family History Society. Searches for family names can be undertaken through a growing number of genealogical websites, though as these do not generally give access to the census as a whole they are of limited use for wider historical research.
The censuses (including the printed Parliamentary summaries) also give a much more accurate picture of population growth than is possible for earlier periods.
EPE Transcripts As part of the EPE project the Henley Census Group transcribed the censuses for particular parts of the town (see links to streets below). NB that the transcripts use some nationally approved abbreviations.
- Bell Street
- Church Street
- Friday Street
- Hart Street
- Northfield End
- Station Road
- Reading Road
Read more about Censuses at The National Archives website