Anyone who used to search the census returns for England and Wales at the old Family Records Centre in London before its closure in 2008 would have been used to the large binders of street indexes to the 1841-1891 census returns which were such a valuable finding aid.
Although we’re now all familiar with the various digitised versions of the census returns available online, it can still be almost impossible to find the people we’re looking for in the place we’re expecting to find them.
In the “good old days”, one possible solution was to check the census street index to find the folios covering a family’s last known address and then use that information to scroll through the relevant microfilmed census pages in the hope that the family had been mis-indexed or omitted from the index.
Until now, the only way to replicate this online was if you already knew the folio numbers concerned as only some of the online census providers allow address searches.
You can now search these census street indexes online. On 2 November, the Historical Streets Project from the Your Archives strand of The National Archives’ website added the street indexes for the 1841, 1851 and 1871 censuses.
There are limitations to these indexes:
only the larger towns are covered
the indexes are organised by Registration District – which doesn’t always equate to the parish or county where we would normally expect to find the street.
Go to http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Your_Archives:Historical_Streets_Project to read more and try it out for yourself.