At Genealogy Lantern my aim is not just to put leaves on family trees and to build a big a tree as possible. My aim is to place those individual leaves into a broader national and local context. In other words, my aim is to give each individual a narrative that reflects their place in the world.
A perfect place to start is to build a picture of the geography of the place, or places, in which your ancestor lived, worked and built their life.
The 1911 census, on Ancestry and FindMyPast, has a ‘Secret Button’, which makes this an easy thing to do.
In Ancestry, when you have searched for your ancestor in the 1911 census, opt for ‘view image’. Then at the bottom of the image page click on the camera reel icon on the left – hand side. This opens up a film strip of thumb nail images of that enumeration district. You can then easily scroll through the records to see who else lived in the street or area, what their employment was and the type of houses they lived in.
I looked at the entry for John William Upex, aged 57, and his wife, Emma Upex, aged 55. John was a burner in a brick field in the brick producing area of Fletton, Huntingdonshire. They lived at 13 Princes Road, and it records that the house had 6 rooms.
By hitting the secret button, I can easily scroll though the other houses that have been enumerated on the street and view their occupations. This is a predominantly brick producing area and the heads of the households are dominated by this industry, recording occupations such as brickyard labourer, brick burner, blacksmith, and brickyard foreman. Nearby was the Fletton East railway station and this is also reflected in the occupations.
At the beginning of the film strip that I looked at for RG14/8670, there was a copy of the ‘Instruction to the enumerator page’, which told me that Princes Road was in the Parish of St. Margaret’s, Fletton and the enumerator was Mr. Charles Butters.
The secret button on FindMyPast can again be located from the image page, on the right – hand side, towards the bottom. On FindMyPast it is called ’All Pages’. If you click on that button three additional buttons appear: ‘Record pages’ brings up thumb nails along the bottom of the screen of all the census images, ‘Linked transcripts’ brings up linked individuals to the ancestor you searched for and ‘Related materials’ gives you a range of additional material you can opt to view.
For our purposes it is the ‘Related materials’ which will provide a wealth of data about this enumeration area and three pages in particular are useful, the ‘Description’ page, ‘List’ page and ‘Totals’ page.
The ‘Description’ page gives us details about the enumeration area itself. For this area, where the Upex family lived, the boundaries of the enumeration area are, ‘north of Fletton Spring, east by middle of Fletton Ave, south by middle of High Street and west by railway line.’ The contents of the enumeration district gives a more in depth flavour of the area covered, ‘Commence at Low’s house Fletton Spring, South West side of Fletton Avenue to Fletton Corner, High Street all houses on North East side of High Street to Railway Bridge all houses in Prince’s Road, Duke Street, Milton Road and Fellowes Road and Farrow’s factory.’
There is also a ‘List;’ page which provides a summary of the individual’s responses. This includes a summary of the dwellings and the number of individuals living in them. For example, 130 High Street was occupied by the Rimes family, which consisted of 11 males and 5 females, and only 2 of these were under 10 years of age. This large family lived in just 6 rooms. The occupations the family were engaged in reflected the Fletton parish and the industries available of brickmaking, a canning factory – Farrows, and a corset maker – Symingtons.
Finally of interest is the ‘Totals’ sheet. The ‘Totals’ sheet summarises the enumeration district. We learn that there were 203 inhabited houses, 22 uninhabited houses and 3 buildings that were not dwellings. We can also see that living in the enumeration district there were 464 men and 450 women making a population total of 914.
I hope this additional information will encourage you to build a picture of the area where your ancestor lived, the community they called home, and to make the most of your family history subscription.