The UK FreeCEN free census project
For people who want to access free census information via the internet, a little-known project is being run by FreeCEN, a project that is connected with the much more famous FreeBMD and FreeREG.
The FreeCEN project began in 1999, with only a handful of volunteer transcribers. By December 2000, 125 people were contributing and by July 2005, this had grown to well over 2000.
The project is not very well funded, and is hosted by a basic and probably free website, but the information that it provides is no less useful for that. The free Scotland census data that is available is the most complete with coverage of the 1841 Scottish census for Aberdeenshire, Argyllshire, Angus, Banffshire, Bute, Caithness, Dumfrieshire, East Lothian, Invernesshire, Kircardineshire, Kinrosshire, Midlothian, Morayshire, Nairn, Peebleshire, Ross and Cromarty, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Wigtownshire completely indexed. Other Scottish regions are nearly complete, as of April 2008, but only the English counties of Cornwall and Warwickshire have been completed, with few others started as yet.
The state of coverage for the Scottish 1851 census index is similar, although not quite so many counties have indexes that have been completed.
For the 1861 free census index, progress is more patchy, with less coverage for the Scotland 1861 census, but with more English counties covered. There is 100% coverage for the census index for Banffshire, Bute, East Lothian only, but there is partial coverage for the Channel Islands, Cumberland, Denbighshire (Welsh free census project), Devon (over 70%), Dorset, County Durham (over 40%), the East Riding of Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Northumberland, Norfolk, the North Riding of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Sussex, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Cornwall is the only county covered in the free census index for 1881, but this reflects the fact that this census is available via the Church of the Latter Day Saints, on CDROM.
In 1891, the free census index is available for several English and Scottish counties, with full coverage available for Bedfordshire, Cornwall, Devon and Warwickshire.
No data is available for the 1901 census, but this is available on a pay per view site supplied by The National Archives, and the access to the free 1901 census index can be gained without payment. This applies only when you want to access the image.
To find out more about volunteering as a transcriber to provide free census data, or about how the project is organised, visit this part of the FreeCEN site. It is the most recently updated and contains contact email addresses.