Q. How can I find information on children who didn’t survive to adulthood?
A. The answer depends on when the children lived. For families between 1850 and 1940, the US census provides a snapshot of children’s names and ages. If you find a young child named in one census but not on the next taken 10 years later, that’s often a clue the child died. Look for those who died in the year prior to the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses on those enumerations’ mortality schedules.
For example, the 1870 census shows Henry Wilkins, age 6, in the East St. Louis, Ill., household of William and Julia Wilkins, along with their other children, Elisabeth (12) and Richard (10). But in the 1880 census, we find only William, Julia, Elisabeth and Richard. Henry would’ve been 16, so it’s not inconceivable he was working somewhere. But the fact that his older brother was at home suggests otherwise.