Family History Episode 10 – Deeper into Census Records

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy PodcastOriginally published 2009

Republished December 10, 2013

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Episode 10: Deeper into Census Records

We’re going to start off today by continuing our use of U.S. Federal Census Records.  Last episode we located relatives in the 1930 census, and today we’re going to push further back in time to follow the census bread crumb trail.

Then in our second segment we’re going to explore some census enumerations that often go overlooked by family historians with Curt Witcher, the Manager of the nationally-recognized Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Curt is a very well-known genealogy lecturer and he has some great tips for tapping in to more obscure census resources. We’ll talk about nonpopulation schedules for the federal census, census substitutes for missing census data (like the 1890 census) and state censuses that may be available, too.

Updates and Links

As I mentioned in the show notes of the last episode, the 1940 census is now available to researchers. Check out those notes for more information. Here are some more updates and links:

  • Learn more about nonpopulation schedules and other census records in Ancestry’s online version of The Source.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau has online info on state censuses. Learn even more in Ann S. Lainhart’s book State Census Records (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992). A lot of state censuses are now searchable on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
  • A few fragments of the 1890 census remain. These are searchable at Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.
  • The Ancestry database substitute for the 1890 census I mentioned in the show is now supplemented by census substitute databases on Ancestry for just about every state for 1890 and other years. Search for them in the Card Catalog with the search term “1890 census.”
  • The National Archives has a portal for census records, too (what’s in them and how to find them).

FamilySearch: Civil Registrations, Military, SSDI and More!

It’s hard to keep up with the content constantly being added online at FamilySearch! If you (like me) spent the past month squeezing the last bit of travel anlaying_low_with_laptop_400_clr_5364d sun from the summer, you may have missed some great new content. Here’s a recap:

This month, over a half million indexed records and images have already shown up from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Guatemala, Italy, New Zealand and the United States. Highlights include updates to the United States Social Security Death Index, images from the Czech Republic, Censuses, 1843–1921, collection, indexed records from the Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895–1980, collection, images from the new U.S., Indiana, Naturalization Records and Indexes, 1848-1992, collection and the Italy, Mantova, Mantova, Censuses (Comune), 1750-1900, collection, and indexed records from the U.S., Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957, collection.

In August, FamilySearch.org added more than 45 million indexed records and images from BillionGraves and from Italy, the U.S., England, New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, Jamaica, Chile, Honduras and more. Notable U.S. additions are updates to the New Orleans Passenger Lists and newly-indexed war collections, including: the United States, World War II Prisoners of War of the Japanese, 1941-1945, collection, the United States, Korean War Battle Deaths, 1950-1957, collection, and the United States, Casualties of the Vietnam War, 1956-1998, collection.

A few more cool additions include:

  • More than a half million images to a growing collection of Italy’s Civil Registrations;
  • Nearly a million indexed Jamaican and a quarter million Chilean civil registrations;
  • More than 2.5 million indexed recods from New Zealand passenger lists (1855-1973);
  • Nearly a half-million indexed names from Boston passenger lists (1820-1891);
  • Over 41 million indexed names added to the U.S. Public Record Index.

Search these and 3.5 billion more records at FamilySearch.org. Records are always free to search here, thanks both to the organization itself and thousands of volunteers around the world who index records. Join the effort here!

Find Family History with Online Newspaper Research: More Chronicling America

Have you already searched for your relatives’ names at Chronicling America, the the Library of Congress’ web collection of digitized American newspapers? Well, search again!

Recently the the Library of Congress added more than 600,000 historic newspaper pages to its enormous collection. According to a press release, these pages include “first-time contributions from Iowa, Michigan, and West Virginia. Other new additions include content from Hawaii, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.” The site now has over 6.6 million searchable newspaper pages from over 1100 newspaper titles, published in 30 states and Washington, D.C. between 1836 and 1922.

Newspaper Book CoverWhat are the chances your family will appear on one of those pages? Pretty good, actually. Here’s a list of the kinds of articles they may show up in from my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers:

  • Advertising: classifieds, companies your ancestor worked for or owned, grocery or dry goods stores ads (for historical context), runaway slaves search and reward, ship departures.
  • Births & deaths: birth announcements, card of thanks printed by the family, obituary and death notices, “Community Pioneer” article upon passing,  funeral notice, reporting of the event that lead to the death, or the funeral.
  • Legal notices and public announcements: auctions, bankruptcies, city council meetings, divorce filings, estate sales, executions and punishments, lawsuits, marriage licenses, probate notices tax seizures, sheriff’s sale lists.
  • Lists: disaster victims, hotel registrations, juror’s and judicial reporting, letters left in the post office, military lists, newly naturalized citizens, passenger lists (immigrants and travelers), unclaimed mail notices.
  • News articles: accidents, fires, etc. featuring your ancestor; front page (for the big picture); industry news (related to occupations); natural disasters in the area; shipping news; social history articles.
  • Community and social events like school graduations, honor rolls, sporting and theater events; social news like anniversaries, church events, clubs, engagements, family reunions, visiting relatives, parties, travel, gossip columns, illnesses, weddings and marriage announcements.

Learn more about researching family history with my book, available in both print and e-book format. And don’t forget to keep checking Chronicling America for stories and clues about your ancestors’ lives.

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