Efforts to put census records on the Web have been the buzz of the genealogy world lately, but those databases aren’t the only way to tap the federal census from your computer. Census schedules have also been popping up on CDs — and now HeritageQuest <www.heritagequest.com> has come up with a unique way of packaging them. You can order a customized CD-ROM with the nationwide listing of every head of household bearing your surname (and all Soundex variations, to cover spelling variations) for the 1870 census.
The searchable CD contains the head of household’s name, age, sex, race, birthplace, locality, county, microfilm series, roll and page number. The data is organized in tables, and you can construct searches using any combination of the database fields.
This surname-specific CD won’t list neighbors or relatives with different surnames — whose records often help you track down your own ancestors. But it does give you a good chance of finding ancestors whose names were misspelled or those who, because of changing boundaries, lived in a different locale than you previously searched. You can also find relatives you didn’t even know existed.
The CD lets you search by surname, place of birth and/or the 1870 place of residence. For example, when I applied a Birth Place of KY and State of IN to the entire Soundex listing for my surname, I got 169 matches. Of those, several belonged to my family, and three actually had variant surname spellings. Locating them took less than five seconds.
Searching the database is as simple as clicking on any (or all) of the fields and then typing in your search criteria. If you set the search parameters to Auto (under the Search menu), the CD will automatically perform a new search each time you change criteria. You can easily remove any previously chosen fields by double-clicking them.
If your surname is frequently misspelled, don’t specify an exact spelling match. Instead, let the system search through the entire Soundex listing using fields other than Surname. If your search returns too many hits, use the Contain or Exclude option to narrow your results. And once you’ve performed a search, you can sort any of the fields by ascending or descending order.
If you already know where your family lived in 1870, other CD-ROMs may be more valuable to you. But if a branch of your family is missing, or you’ve been unable to find them in printed indexes, these custom CDs may be your quickest ticket to success. And once you’ve located your forebears on CD, you can research the rest of the neighborhood by viewing the microfilm pages at your local research facility.
The Heritage Quest surname-specific CD-ROM requires Windows 95 or higher, Pentium 100 MHz or higher, 16 MB RAM and up to 88 MB hard disk space.
From the October 2001 issue of Family Tree Magazine