Tuesday, July 31, 2012

US Federal Census Is Not the Only Census

Not all census records are for the US Federal census. There are many other types of census records. In fact a search at FamilySearch.org yields 32,397 results in the card catalog with titles having the word “census” in them. A similar search of the card catalog at Ancestry.com yields 455 results. Don’t get bogged down in the difference in record count. FamilySearch has a catalog entry for each county for many years where Ancestry has one entry for each census year.

The important thing to recognize is that there are many enumerations that are not Federal census records and your ancestors could be hiding in them. I’ve written previously in this blog about the NY state census records and many states, counties, and cities conducted their own censuses. Earlier in US history, when a territory wanted to become a state, there was also a census to prove that there was sufficient populations to warrant statehood.

Pennsylvania conducted a Septennial census every seven years for tax purposes and that index just became available on Ancestry.com for the years 1779-1863.

For those of you not familiar with using a card catalog search; here are the steps for searching the card catalog at FamilySearch.org.

Open the FamilySearch.org website.

               Click “Catalog”

               In the search box, click “Titles”

               In the “For” box type “census”

               Click “Search”

The process is similar for Ancestry.com

Open the Ancestry.com website.

               Click “Search”

               Click “Card Catalog”

               Type “census” in the “Title” box

               Click “search”

If you put the word “census” in the keyword box and not in the title box, you will get even more results.

It’s a good idea to browse through the titles just to see what types of census records exist on these two premier websites. There are many sites that have census records. Don’t just limit yourself to these two sites.

More next week on which sites indexed what records for the Federal censuses.

Happy Hunting!

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