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A census or muster counts and describes the population of a particular area.
Census data is useful for researching places & people’s lives over time, or at a point in time. Sometimes information about individuals is available too.
The earliest systematic collection of information about Australia's residents occurred in 1788. The colonies and states regularly collected data in musters or censuses, up until the first Australian (national) census in 1911.
Taking the census, A/S23/04/81/137
State Library of Victoria
What is a census?
A census (or 'return') records information about a population. The same information is collected at the same time from everyone across a specific area. Information is collected from people where they are staying at the time of the census.
What is a muster?
Before censuses, musters were the most common way of recording information about a population. Information was collected by calling a population to assemble at a particular place/s, then recording people's details.