Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Census

Census research is one of the more fun types of genealogical research to do. If you are not a genealogist you might be asking "why?"

Well, because a census is one of those things that governments do, usually every ten years, to get a sense of their population and to find out more about their people. When you find one of your families or individuals in a census, you have a snapshot of them at a particular place and time. Oftentimes you find out (among other things) their age, birthplace, gender and race, birthplace of their parents, education, occupation, residence, whether they are able to read and write, and the other members of household as well as their relationship to the head of household. If the individual is an immigrant, you can learn when they arrived in the country and their legal status, You are able to take a virtual visit back in time and learn who their neighbors were and whether the area was rural or urban. Oftentimes you find friends and family members nearby.

Each census a unique. Reviewing censuses over the decades and from different countries show that the questions asked change from census to census. Some censuses are very detailed and others quite general. Some countries, states and localities maintain their censuses and make them available for research; others destroy them (I know - it's shocking and more than a bit disappointing!).

Be sure to include census research in your family history - it's fun, interesting and often provides more clues to learn more about your family members.

By way of example, a few screenshots of Michael Daniel O'Murphy and his family from my Legacy database. Michael came from Ireland to the United States and appears on the US federal censuses for 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920. He also appears on the Nebraska state census for 1885. These screenshots show you where you can learn more about census research and how I enter the information for one census - the 1870 US federal population schedule.

The search capability at both Ancestry and FamilySearch is excellent.
Additional help is at the right at Ancestry.
FamilySearch has 115 particular census results for the Murphy!

I enter the information from the census about
each household member and include the source citation
(so anyone using my research can follow those breadcrumbs).

I include the information from the resource - here
Ancestry's explanation of their record for the 1870 Census

Notes help me flesh out some of my research issues.

Which is your favorite site for census research and what has been your best census find?

See you back here tomorrow for the letter D!

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