I have the parameters of a UK census page in a citation and I would like to go directly to it in Ancestry. However, I cannot find the feature any more.

For instance, series=RG13 (i.e. 1901), piece=3167, folio=85, page=19

I'm sure this used to be there. Has it been dropped? I use findmypast more than Ancestry and their site does support this feature. It is very useful where a personal name was badly mis-transcribed and that page was very hard to find, although I would expect the feature to be available simply to support the idea of a reliable citation.

3 Answers 3


You need Ancestry's Old Search. OK - I know, how do you get to that? (I keep forgetting, so assume others will). Go to option Search/Search All Records and at the right hand side, beneath the menu bar, there's the tiny script "Go to Old Search". Then just search the censuses using the Advanced Search.

  • Thanks Adrian. It's not very satisfactory but it will do for my immediate problem. I completely fail to see why ancestry quotes these parameters when you find the page, and then no longer provides a way of finding your way back to the page by using them.
    – ACProctor
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 13:11
  • Mind you - at least we can do it. Ancestry quotes microfilm numbers for the US censuses that are impossible to use as input. No wonder American genealogists use EDs etc.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Nov 22, 2012 at 19:08
  • To browse the US Census by microfilm roll: stevemorse.org/census/censusbrowser.html
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 15:41

The RG13, piece=3167, folio=85, page=19 reference reflects the archival arrangement of the census collections at The National Archives, so is the well established convention. However, it is based on microfilm records and Ancestry's records are digital images.

The original Census Enumerators Books (CEBs) were arranged by 'registration/adminstration county', registration districts, sub-districts and enumeration districts. Consequently a TNA piece collected together a number of CEB's from an area. With more than one book per piece page numbers are not unique. When the censuses where microfilmed, the folio numbers were added (stamped on the top right of the front of each sheet of paper in the book), which combined with the page number ensures a unique reference for each page.

Ancestry appears to follow the original CEB arrangement, but substitutes an image number instead of the page number. As the first page in a CEB is not numbered ( it has details of the enumeration district, including the enumeration district number), the image number should in theory be one more than the page number (e.g. page number 19 equates to image number 20). Individual census pages can be accessed using the 'Browse this collection' function.

When citing an online record, I suggest that the website's arrangement is included for ease of retrieval, as well as the archive reference. In this case, I suggest:

Census 1901. England, Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, Nottingham South West, District 29, image no 20. Digital image. Digital image. Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 21 November 2012); citing The National Archives, Kew, RG 13/3167/85/19.

Christian, Peter & Annal, David. (2008) Census: The Expert Guide. The National Archives, Kew. pp.252-253, 48.


Stephen P. Morse has a One-Step page to look up UK Census records by reference on Ancestry.co.uk:


  • 1
    Thanks Jan. I learned more recently that the licensing agreement between TNA and companies like Ancestry and FindMyPast for displaying census images is that there must be a way of getting to a specific page via its TNA reference code.
    – ACProctor
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 17:23
  • As there should be! The trouble with workarounds is, what does one do when Ancestry removes Old Search or hides it enough that one can't get there. So I'm glad to see that Morse & his volunteers are on it -- they'll find a way to make it easy to search by reference no matter how obscure Ancestry makes it.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 17:29

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