Records from the 1911 census are available online at findmypast.com

06 January

The 'infirmities' column from the 1911 census has been made available online for the first time at 1911census.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk.

Sensitive information

The 1911 census was first released online in 2009 in association with The National Archives but the 'infirmities' column, containing descriptions of people's health conditions, has remained closed until now under data protection regulations.

This final column of data was handwritten by heads of households on the night of Sunday 2 April 1911, and reflects the language of the time. 'Lunatic', 'feeble-minded' and 'imbecile' are the most commonly reported infirmities.

Suffragettes used the census to report their infirmity as 'voteless', while others took revenge on troublesome families by recording relatives as 'greedy', 'vain' and even 'bald and toothless'.

'Extra dimension'

Audrey Collins, Family History records specialist at The National Archives, said: 'The information in the "infirmities" column being released today helps add an extra dimension to the picture of our ancestors' lives in 1911. We have to remember that the census returns were completed by relatives living in the same house who for the most part had no specialist medical knowledge.

Their descriptions provide us with a clue as to how each individual was viewed by other family members, although many would have been reluctant to admit that their relatives suffered from any defect.'