Source 1a

Census returns for Butetown, Cardiff, in 1911. Catalogue reference: Class: RG14; Piece: 32125; No. 208

The census is a register or list of people in the United Kingdom that takes place every ten years. Each return shows the structure of the household, the occupations of its inhabitants, their relationships to each other and their original place of birth.


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Look at sources 1a, 1b, and 1c.

  1. What do the returns for Butetown reveal about the diversity of Cardiff port in terms of interracial marriage and religious tolerance?
  2. Examine the three different households in each of the returns. Describe the benefits of being with people who shared your country of origin or the experience of migration. What drawbacks might there be?
  3. Why do you think that details regarding faith are recorded in Source 1b?
  4. Why do you think details on Mr Shaw’s return Source 1c shows that, although born in Hong Kong, he is a ‘British subject by parentage’?
  5. What do all of the census returns tell us about the mobility of families and employment during the early twentieth century?
  6. How do the census returns help us to reflect on the types of challenges the seamen or families might have faced?
  7. What do you find most interesting or surprising about these returns?
  8. What other original sources would be useful in finding out about the diverse community of Butetown?