Australian censuses and musters
A large proportion of the census information held at the National Library is kept in microform format. Further information on how to find these items can be found in Family History Sources in the Newspapers and Microforms Reading Room. This guide contains selected print works only.
Regular population counts have been conducted in Australia since the time of the first British settlement. These early population counts, or musters, excluded military personnel. The first official census was held in 1828 in New South Wales and the first simultaneous census in each of the colonies was held in 1881. A uniform census schedule was developed for the 1901 census. In 1905, the new Commonwealth Parliament passed the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics was created the following year. The first national census developed by the new Bureau was held in 1911 and then at irregular intervals in 1921, 1933, 1947, 1954 and 1961. Since 1961 regular censuses have been held every 5 years. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, The Population Census - A Brief History)
Only a few colonial censuses contain personal names as the personal details from the majority of censuses were destroyed after the statistical data was extracted. No censuses containing personal names exist after 1901, however the 2001 census included an option for participants to agree to their name-identified personal details being kept by the National Archives of Australia for release 99 years later. This was referred to as the Time Capsule Project. The question was again included in the 2006 Census.