Eight Important How-to Tips in Searching Census Records

Eight Important How-to Tips in Searching Census Records

Census records may be the single most utilized search tool online for family tree research. From 1930 back to the founding of the country, the records of every census are available online. By using census records you may be able to trace your family tree back to when your ancestors first came to this country, whether they were immigrants who came ashore at Ellis Island, or were here to fight the British during the Revolution, the census records may well show you a piece of their lives.

Census records are available online and have truly aided the search of the genealogist, whether amateur or professional, since their introduction. Using the combined power of the internet, high speed computers, and the extensive research of the federal government, all at your fingertips can make research a breeze.

When searching census records, there are several things to remember. First, have a good idea of alternative spellings of your family name. Many family names had the spelling changed to make the names seem more American, and help the individuals blend into American society without standing out, with what seemed like foreign sounding names. Other names were changed because the immigration officials made typographical errors, or could not spell or pronounce the names involved. And many names simply had multiple spellings that were all considered correct at the time, especially since so many people didn’t read or write at the time. Also, trying to decipher other people’s handwriting can cause anyone problems. A person may make an r that looks like an n or any one of dozens of other mistakes from bad handwriting. With that in mind, know all of the alternative spellings.

Next, make a list of all of the family names you are looking for, and all of the information you have relevant to the ancestors you want to learn about. Keep this information in a notebook handy, or in an online data base. And be prepared to write in the notebook or add to the data base as you acquire more information. When making a list of names, remember that Smith for instance is sometimes written at Smithe, or Smythe. Johnson can be Johnston or Jonson. Madux can be Maddux or Maddox. Know the combinations and alternatives and you will aid your search.

After that, know what states your ancestors were probably living in. If your ancestor lived in New Jersey that is the census you want to check out, not New York. And know the geography. If you can’t find your ancestor in New Jersey, but believe he was in the area at the time, then New York as an adjourning state is the next place to check, followed by Pennsylvania and all of the other states in the area where the ancestor could have lived.

Know something about the spouses and the spousal families. If you can’t find your great, great, great grandfather, but you know whom he married, then you can check out the spouse’s family and perhaps find some information there. The more information you have to start with in your research, the better for you, the more extensive the research will be, and the less time it will take.

Then have a good idea of the time period in which the ancestor lived. If your ancestor lived in New York in 1900, then that is the first census to check. Then checking the 1890 and 1910 census records will help determine when he moved there and when he left. But, there is no need to check the 1920 census or the 1880 census if the time periods don’t match.

There has never been a better time in history to do genealogical research for many reasons, one of the main ones being census records availability online. Other things that help the genealogical researcher these days include the popularity of the hobby, the abundance of good software to help in the research, and the Internet itself. With the Internet it is possible to find online chat rooms, groups, message forums and other places to meet like minded people researching their own families. And as these things go, many people start their research on one branch of their own family and then tie into other branches, tying into other people’s research, and helping everyone along the way.

Article Source: http://www.familyhistoryarticles.com


About the Authors Paul Duxbury and Kevin Cook own www.amateur-genealogist.com and www.our-family-trees.co.uk two of the leading Genealogy Websites. In addition Paul owns a wide range of exciting websites which can be viewed at www.our-family-trees.co.uk


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