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Housing, mobility and the measurement of child health from the 1911 Irish census

Housing, mobility and the measurement of child health from the 1911 Irish census

Data sets

The study area consists of clusters of streets from different parts of the city of Belfast, including the Wards of St Anne’s, Windsor, and Smithfield, and has particularly good coverage for the West Belfast areas around the Falls Road and the Shankill Road, both core working-class communities of religious diversity. The 1911 sample amounts to around 20 per cent of the city and provides fertility histories, from which mortality can be calculated, for around 8,000 married women.


The census data were transcribed by the Belfast Family History Project, under the auspices of Professor Liam Kennedy of Queen’s University, Belfast, and they very kindly gave us access to their data. This consists of over 50,000 records from the 1911 census, and some 30,000 for 1901, rendering only a relatively small amount of additional census data entry necessary to ensure the samples cover the same streets.

Information on inter-censal movement is provided by Belfast street directories, which published annually the names of householders at each address. Directories for 1901, 1907, 1908 and 1910 are already available in machine-readable form (, and relevant streets have been transcribed from the 1903 and 1905 volumes which are available in the Cambridge University Library. The data from all the sources has been combined in a relational database, allowing households to be traced between buildings over time, and also permitting assessments of population turnover at given addresses.