About 1901: Living at the Time of the Census


This web exhibition uses words, pictures and documents to open a door onto life in 1901. It accompanied the release in January 2002 of the 1901 census for England and Wales - an unrivalled resource for exploring our rich heritage. The exhibition introduces you to the history of the time, and to historical documents held at The National Archives and elsewhere.

Navigation: around the exhibition
On entering the exhibition, from the site's front page, you will be presented with a choice of four main galleries to explore:

Watch contemporary film clips.

People and Places of 1901
In the stories in this section, we have combined images and transcripts from the 1901 census with other historical sources to illustrate how the census can be used to trace family and community history. The section contains useful pointers for your own research.

In People, discover the histories of a typist, a telephone operator, a naval officer, a railwayman, an actress, an army officer, a soldier, a war widow, a refugee, a metropolitan policeman, a composer, and a dockyard worker.

In Places, visit the village school of East Tuddenham and Honingham (Norfolk); find out about life in Senghenydd (Glamorgan) at the time of a devastating pit explosion; learn about the immigrant communities of Spitalfields (east London); and discover more about the mills of Salford (Lancashire).

Living in 1901
Learn here about what it was really like to be alive in 1901. Explore a choice of eight different themes: Making a Living, Education, On the Move, A Place to Live, Food and Drink, Health, Time Out and Crime and Punishment.

Events of 1901
Enter this gallery to find out what was in the news in 1901, and to read about Britain's political and economic situation and its place in the world. This gallery also contains a history of the census for England and Wales.

Navigation: in the galleries
From the main menu of each gallery you can link to the gallery's main themes, and then to individual chapters.

From each page, the icon for the gallery ('Events', 'People and Places' or 'Living') takes you to the menu of that gallery; the 1901 icon takes you to the main menu of the exhibition; and the 'key' icon provides a link to other PRO exhibitions in Pathways to the Past, the PRO's adult learning site.

Click on the thumbnail images to access an enlarged picture, caption and (where relevant) transcript or fuller explanation.

Other links within the text take you to further material on the theme you are reading about. The links connect to parts of the 1901 exhibition and to different National Archives exhibitions and other parts of our website.

The National Archives

The National Archivesholds the records of the central UK government and the central law courts. Its records stretch back for almost a millennium. For details of opening hours and access, as well as our catalogue, please visit our main website.

Exhibition credits
In this exhibition, we have used not only material held by The National Archives, but also items held in other archives and items that are not crown copyright. We would like to thank all these institutions and individuals for granting us the necessary permissions. Despite our best efforts, we have not always been able to locate copyright holders after such a long period of time. If we have inadvertently contravened rights that you feel are yours, then please contact us. Please follow this link for fuller details of images.

Content editor and principal author: Aidan Lawes

Web editor: Marion Wallace

Writing and research also by:
Steve Cable, John Cassidy, Lynne Cookson, Bruno Derrick, Cecilia Doidge-Ripper, John Fisher, Peter Goodwin, Clive Hawkins, Rena King, Justin Lyon, Michael McGrady, Dawn Norton, Sarah Price, Jessamy Sykes, Nigel Taylor, Ralph Thompson, James Travers, Chris Watts, Carol Wright

Image production: Emma Wallis, Dominique Yves

Exhibition designed and created by: Emily Booth, Harpal Sabharwal, Robert Daoust