A census is a snapshot of the population. It is a count of all people and households in an area, and is taken on a specific date. In England and Wales, census records are taken every ten years.
This becomes available online at findmypast on 6 January 2022, and Central Library is one of only two places in England to offer access to this site for free. Find out more about this change
1841 to 1911 census
Census records for England, Wales and Scotland are available online at Ancestry and findmypast.
The original 1851 census suffered damage. For Blackley, Harpurhey, and Moston it is completely missing along with parts of Hulme, St. George's and London Road districts.
Much of the census for Deansgate, Ardwick and Chorlton-on-Medlock area is illegible due to deterioration of the originals.
The Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society have done a lot of work to retrieve information on some of these areas. A name index to this "unfilmed" 1851 census is now available.
The 1851 "unfilmed" census for Manchester, Chorlton, Salford, Oldham and Ashton-Under-Lyne is now available on findmypast and Ancestry.
How to access
Free access to Ancestry and findmypast is available at any of our libraries. You can also pay for your own membership.
Free access to the 1921 census is only possible from computers at Manchester Central Library.
Manchester Library Members and Consortium Library Members:
On the ground floor in Archives and Local Studies, the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society members will be available to help with Family History enquiries from 10.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday.
Computers in this area can be used for 2 hours maximum but cannot be pre-booked, to leave them available for people that need support from the helpdesk.
If you have a library card for Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside or Trafford take it to a customer information desk and ask to become a Consortium Member. Staff will amend the card details and you will be able to use the computers.
If you are not already a library member please join Manchester Libraries. You'll get a temporary number: make a note of this and bring ID showing your name and address to any staff desk in Manchester Central Library. You'll get a library card that you can use to access the computers.
Using the library computers
To log on, use your library card number with the pin code you have chosen. Open Google Chrome and go to https://www.findmypast.co.uk/1921-census.
You get one hour as standard: to request the extra hour ask a member of staff, giving them the number of the computer you are logged onto.
Printing the 1921 Census Return:
Local Studies staff will be available to help. The cost of printing on A4 paper is:
- B&W: 20p each side
- Colour: 50p each side
The printers take coins only, no change is given by the printer, but staff can give change.