Use of Mechanical Tabulation for 1911 Census
For the 1911 Census, Hollerith machines were hired from The Tabulating Machine Company. Hollerith machines had successfully been used for the 1890 US Census so England, Wales and Scotland all decided to use this technology for the 1911 census. This company was one of the four companies that merged to become International Business Machines (IBM) in the 1930s.
Prior to adopting the use of Hollerith machines, reports were drafted by both Registrar Generals in England and Scotland that considered both the efficiencies, accuracy of results and economies of changing from the 'ticking' system to a punch card system. Dr Dunlop, The Scottish Superintendant of Statistics estimated a saving of £591 using punch cards on the assumption that a boy could punch 250 cards in one hour.
The 1901 Scottish census had taken two years to complete using the ticking method and the 1911 census was completed by the end of December 1913 using the Hollerith tabulating machines. The letter dated 13 January 1911 shows that the machines only arrived in July that year. The letter dated 18 August 1911 mentions the strike as being responsible for the late delivery of the punches. There was one tabulating machine, three sorting machines and three counting machines plus the punches and cards.
Use of women and girls was favoured to make the punch cards because they were cheaper to employ than men.