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Historical research

My main research topics are the classification of occupations in historical censuses and the impact of the administrative mind on the collection, processing and reporting of census statistics.

1881 Census

Two versions of introductory guides to the machine-readable version of the 1881 census, written with Mark Allen, are available here. They've both been superceded by other documentation available from the UKDA website, but have some historic interest.

1881 census for England and Wales, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man: introductory user guide v0.3 [PDF] (1999)

1881 census for England and Wales, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man: introductory user guide v0.4 [PDF] (1999)

Classification of occupations

A longer report on the classification of occupations in the 1881 census. This was subsequently published elsewhere in a condensed form.

The Classification of Occupations in the 1881 census of England and Wales [PDF] (1999)

I've additionally given two papers which relate to the classification of occupations in Scotland and Ireland. The first, on Scotland, was given at a symposium entitled "Birth pains and death throes: the creation of vital statistics in Scotland and England" at the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Glasgow in September 2004. The second will be available in due course.

Occupational classification in the nineteenth-century census of Scotland [PDF] (2004)

A short article on the quality of the census enumerators' books for the Isle of Man where a group of fishermen were enumerated twice.

Shooting the nets: a note on the reliability of the 1881 census enumerators' books [External link] [PDF] (1997)

I've also published a short report on the "The causes and effects of error correction in the population totals of the 1801 census of England and Wales" in Local Population Studies, 81 (2008).


These two papers were presented at a workshop in Oslo in June 2002. They were slated to be published in some proceedings but this didn't happen. The PDFs below have been created from the original proofs formatted by the editors of the proceedings. It seems that some of the papers actually managed to get page numbers, so I think the citation for these should be: in Suzy Pasleau and Isabelle Schopp (eds), with Raffaella Sarti, Proceedings of the Servant Project, (Liège: Éditions de l’Université de Liège, 2005 (but 2006)), 5 vols., vol. II. But I don't know the pagination!

The Classification of Domestic Servants in England and Wales, 1851–1951 [PDF] (2002)

The International Classification of Servants in the Nineteenth Century [PDF] (2002)

Earlier British censuses

This "draft" guide, published as a University of Essex working paper, was authored by Richard Wall, Beatrice Moring and myself. We had plans to update and revise it, but sadly this has never happened. A revised version of the introduction was published in the Spring 2005 issue of Local Population Studies.

Census schedules and listings, 1801-1831: an introduction and guide [External link] [PDF] (2004)

1901 Census

An article published in Local Population Studies 67 (2001), 26-43 on the development, administration and value to local population studies is on the LPSS website.

The 1901 Census: an introduction [External link] [PDF] (2001)

1921 Census

Following finding a flyer at the TNA for the postponement of the 1921 census, I wrote this short article which was published in the The Ephemerist in 2007. Below is a link to the submitted article. The Ephemerist is the journal of The Ephemera Society [External link].

The Rogues, the Reformers and the Registrar-General [PDF] (2007)


The histpop website (2006-7) contains a number of essays which I've written relating to the British censuses. For example:

Site last updated: 19 May 2010.

Page last updated: 19 May 2010.