Additional info on census records -
make certain to read the "Online Information"
Genealogical Research Guides
(about census AND other records)
Census Websites: (List from Gary Martens)
AllCensus, Cape May County, NJ (Census CD's) http://www.allcensus.com/
AllCensus list of Nebraska Census on CD: http://www.allcensus.com/ne.html
Heritage Quest - US Federal Census Schedules Available on Microfilm http://www.il.proquest.com/products_hq/sx.shtml
USGenWeb Census Project: http://www.us-census.org/
alternative for NE records: http://www.us-census.org/states/nebraska/
in the U.S. Federal Census http://www.amberskyline.com/treasuremaps/uscensus.html
Includes "Glitches found in the Census"
"How-to Get Started on your research of the Census"
"The Soundex and how-to use it"
Census Lookup Site: http://www.rootsweb.com/~uslookup/
A listing of Volunteers and Census Links. Be sure to read the opening page where it talks about unreasonable requests.
The Census On line - And other important data bases http://www.doitnow.com/~moravia/census.html
US Census Bureau - Genealogy home page: http://www.census.gov/genealogy/www/
Cyndi Howell's list of International Census web sites: http://www.CyndisList.com/census2.htm
Cyndi Howell's list of US Census web sites: http://www.CyndisList.com/census.htm
Census Info page of Genealogy.com
Macintosh and Federal Census CD's
One problem with the commercial companies' census CDs is that they are available only for Windows machines. Those of us still using Macs are shut out. Even would-be transcribers need to use a template for Windows. The answer, I think, is for those who have the proper hardware to join in Rootsweb's census transcription project, getting those records online for all to share. - Barbara
WHY GATHER CENSUS RECORDS?
The census is another record type to document your family history.
Every type of record includes errors & omissions. Collect every record you can find - COMPARE the data for each individual. Note the conflicts in your files.
The more records you have collected - the better the chance that you "know the facts".
There will be times when the information you have collected can only result in a "best guess", identify it as unproven and continue your research.
Even what is carved in stone can be mistaken, we've seen plenty of gravestones with a correction carved over the date originally given. If you must have absolutes - recommend you change hobbies.
Your family history should include the census data - and if you don't find
your ancestors, your history should state where you looked for them, even though
the result was zilch!
You'll learn all sorts of things -
- a nickname that was never used in more formal documents
- a child listed that died young and was buried without a gravestone
- a relative living with your family that you didn't know about
- a secondary occupation that was never mentioned in your oral history
- that grandpa & grandma did NOT immigrate together
Particularly helpful is the 1900 census with year of immigration, naturalization status, number of years married, number of children born & how many surviving, ...
"As it is now the indexes that exist are of such poor quality that the only way to be sure that your folks are not included in a particular census is to read the entire census, line by line." - from NE Roots list.
Indexes vary in reliability - including the Soundex and the Miracode cards (sometimes mis-arranged prior to filming), and those were done by people employed to extract the data. Keep in mind that some were done to meet special criteria (example - the 1880 Soundex only includes families with children under 10 years). Never rely on an index only. Some indexes are found only locally - the work of a dedicated local genealogist with the best of intentions. That person will often recognize the mis-spellings and confuse you by spelling the name properly, so you don't recognize it when you see the microfilm!
Never rely on an extract totally. It's too easy to misread any entry.
- One enumerator's "4" & "9" seemed interchangable.
- Another couldn't subtract - all birth years are off by 10 years, OR the age is off by 10 years - pick which column to believe!
- There's often not much difference between an "a" and an "o".
- Enumerator may have "crossed the t" three letter spaces to the right! The uncrossed "t" is read as "l".
- Enumerator's handwriting may extend some letters into adjacent lines.
- Extractor may have to "count the number of humps" to decide if the name included "nn", "mm", or "mn" ....
- Census supervisors made notes on the enumeration pages; these sometimes infringe on listing.
Ultimately - you'll want a copy of the original census page to do your own "interpretation". So a "good" extract will give you identifying information. Census film series & roll number, state and county names, enumeration district and page number, the dwelling and family numbers. Keep track of that information for the day you'll be able to match all that info to the actual film and make a copy of the "original"!
Beyond the handwriting and the faded ink - the census itself includes errors!
- The respondent didn't speak English, or the enumerator didn't speak anything but English.
- The enumerator wrote what he/she "heard" so all the names are mis-spelled in a precinct of immigrants.
- The respondent may have been illiterate, and could not read what was being written, could not make corrections.
- Age stated may be based on size of children rather than year born.
- WARNING - There is NOTHING to tell you who spoke to the enumerator -
Sometimes a child was used to answer questions as was only member of household that spoke English
Hired man may have been only person at home when enumerator arrived, how accurate was he?
If nobody was home, data may have been supplied by a neighbor as the enumerator was not coming back.
Owner/manager of boarding house supplied answers for all living there!
Recommend you collect EVERY census
record possible for your family history.
- For one individual, we have 4 birthyears - that span 17 years - one from his gravestone, and three different years (ages) from census records! Did his family really know when he was born and put that on the gravestone? Which year is the "right" one? When we seek his birth record in "the old country" will we find any match?
- Grandma K. wrote a letter 40 years ago stating two infant siblings of Grandpa were buried with his parents, and no gravestones for any of them. One of those children was found in a mortality schedule, the other we still cannot verify.
- A gravestone gives man's birthyear as 1886, but his name appears in the 1885 as a 6 month old. More research needed - was he really a year older than he knew? OR was there another child - one that died, so they gave the same name to the next son born?
Handy hint - Carry a piece of pastel paper when you plan to read microfilm. If the ink is faded, lay the pastel paper on the projection surface - for whatever reason, this "brings up" some portions of the faded image. Pale yellow seems to work most often, but try green or blue as well. (from Karen)
Return to "Census Records for Nebraska"
or "Where to Find the Census Film"
© 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by T&C Miller