Census Tips

Census Tips

Remember these pointers when dealing with enumeration records.

  • Record the census year, microfilm number and roll or the URL of the Web site, state, county, township, page number, house or family number.

  • Record information on the neighbors for several houses on either side of your ancestor. You never know when they might turn out to be an in-law or other family member.

  • Copy census data exactly as you found it, even if you know it’s incorrect.

  • Don’t assume the children belong to the couple they’re enumerated with. They may be grandchildren, nieces, nephews or cousins.

  • Just because your ancestor isn’t in an index doesn’t mean they aren’t on the census. Published indexes can be inaccurate.

  • Look for your family in every available census and abstract the data about everyone, not just your direct line.

  • If the head of household is missing from a census year, don’t assume he died; he may have gone to live with one of his children.

  • Copy everyone in the household, even if apparently not family members. It’s possible you’ll find a relationship at a later date.

  • Copy the information in all rows and columns, even if you think it’s not important.

  • Look for variant surname spellings in indexes. Our ancestors weren’t as concerned about spelling as we are.

  • Look for phonetic variations of your surname. Vowels were frequently interchanged: i.e. Myer, Mier, Meyer, Mire.

  • Watch for the Americanization of foreign-sounding names.

  • Don’t assume all information is correct. If no one was home, the enumerator may have obtained the information from a neighbor.

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