Making Sense of the Census: The Manuscripts Returns for England and Wales, 1801-1901 by Edward Higgs. Public Record Office Handbook No. 23, HMSO Publications Centre, PO Box 276, London SW8 5DT. copyright 1989, Third impression 1991. £9.95

This book is highly recommended if you intend to do much work with the census returns of England and Wales. It describes the history and idiosyncrasies of the development of the census materials from 1801-1901. This includes the 1901 census which will not be available for public inspection until 2001. The structure of each return is described along with the special returns for the Army, Navy, merchant marine, vessels on inland waterways and institutions. The information regarding an individual is discussed in detail and provides helpful material on how to interpret what you find in the returns especially if it may be out of the ordinary.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.1 no.1, 1994