Inside Sources: Census Research Tips

By Family Tree Editors Premium

• Know census milestones: The 1850 US federal census was the first to name everyone at a residence, not just the head of household. In 1880, the census began delineating each person’s relationship to the head of household.
• The 1870 census could help you identify survivors of the Civil War. If your service-age male relative is unexpectedly absent from that census, he might have been a casualty. Conversely, his presence could point you to military records.

• It’s easy to look for census transcriptions using the USGenWeb state search engine at <∼usgenweb/ussearch.htm>. Choose a state and then type in a county, the census year or your ancestor’s name, plus the word census. If you can’t find your ancestor, try alternate spellings or click National Search at the top of the page to search all states.

• Beware of ages reported in census records — many people, particularly women, tended to be secretive about their ages. And someone reporting for absent household members might have incorrectly guessed their ages.

From the September 2005 Family Tree Sourcebook