Announcing The Fairy Census

From New Pictures in Old Frames, 1894

From New Pictures in Old Frames, 1894

Read on for something extraordinary.  In my last post on fairy music I mentioned a special Fairy Issue of Fortean Times magazine. In that issue you will find an announcement of the largest folklore survey ever–the “Fairy Census.”  This has been created by the newly-revived Fairy Investigation Society, which will be sending the Fairy Census 2015-2016 to its members this weekend. You can join by going to the website. Even if you’re not a member, if you’ve had a fairy encounter or if your grandfather told you about fairies at the bottom of his garden, you can take the survey.

The following press release was written for the UK, so it mentions fairy sightings in Britain and Ireland–but this census is for everyone, in any country. If you have ever had an experience related to the world of fairy, or if you have heard from someone who has,  I urge you to fill out the questionnaire. This is a unique opportunity to share your sightings or to discuss fairy beliefs and lore.


Do people still see fairies in 21st century Britain and Ireland? DR SIMON YOUNG and the Fairy Investigation Society want to find out – and they need your help.

The fairy census is a two-year project to chart fairy beliefs and fairy sightings in Britain and Ireland and promises to be the biggest folklore survey of its kind ever undertaken. The census is launched this week in Fortean Times magazine and includes an online form for those who have had fairy experiences, and another questionnaire to measure how fairy belief has changed in recent years among the general public.

In its first days online, the census has already brought in interesting results – such as the man who, while out for a walk, saw some squirrels on a tree at dusk, only to realise, in shock, that he was looking at little men scrabbling over the branches.

A similar census was held 60 years ago and brought in several hundred responses from around the world: the results were finally published this summer in Marjorie Johnson’s Seeing Fairies (Anomalist Books), extracted in the new issue of Fortean Times. The present fairy census hopes, using social media, to bring in several thousand responses. It will be carried out with the help of the Fairy Investigation Society, a group dedicated to the study of past and present fairy folklore.

The project coordinator, historian Dr Simon Young, says that: “We are not interested just in what people see, but why they see it. For example, fairy sightings are often associated with sleep deprivation or unusual moods. We are also interested in how fairy sightings change. So, fairies seem to have, generally speaking, gotten smaller through the centuries. Will this trend continue? With the census we will have the means of measuring changing beliefs.”

The fairy census can be found at: 

The December issue of Fortean Times is on sale now. For further information please contact editor Dr David Sutton at

Anyone interested in covering the fairy census should get in touch with Dr Simon Young at

Fortean Times is a monthly magazine of news, reviews and research on strange phenomena and experiences. It was founded by Bob Rickard in 1973 to continue the work of the American writer Charles Fort (1874-1932).

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