Understanding the Census and Finding Those Hidden Gems

It is finally 2021 and it is all still a crazy mess out there. What better time to reboot, hunker down, and start fresh in our research. Let’s get back to some basics and look at records we already have and those are easily accessible. Let’s start with understanding the census records.

In our latest podcast, Episode #61, we go over all the nooks and crannies in all the census forms. One thing that can really help you with your research are blank census forms which you can find HERE. We all struggle with reading the headings in the online versions of the actual census. The printable forms are easy to read and you can make notes on them as well. The Family Search Wiki also has census worksheets that can be very helpful and they can be found HERE. And lastly, some general census information can be found HERE.

Did you know there is a Merchant Seaman, Veteran, and American Indian Schedule in addition to the population schedule? There are also a few non population schedules such as Agricultural, Industrial/Manufacturing, and Mortality. These can all prove extremely helpful in your research. Just knowing if your ancestor owned a farm or a business you could then locate a deed for that property. If your ancestor died in the year previous to the census, even more information can be found out about that person from the Mortality Schedule. To find out what is available in the state you are researching click HERE.

The early years of the census, 1790-1840 used tick marks to track people in different age groups. If you are researching families during this time, it is helpful to keep track of their ages and what age they should be in certain years to know if you are tracking the correct family. We have found using the Early Federal Census Worksheet, created by Donna Cox Baker, has been a huge help in deciphering these families. She was our guest on Episode #40 Using Zotero to Cite Genealogical Sources. This awesome interactive tool has been wonderful in helping to understand the census in these early years.

For those of us who love census research, the 1950 U.S. census will be released on April 2022. In the meantime, listen to our recent podcast for all the tips on searching in the census. You can also sign up for our weekly quick tips HERE.

Cheers!

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