When it comes to family research, the US census records are a treasure trove. They offer some core information that can help you find family history very accurately and fairly easily too.
While they may look like very qualitative information at first glance, they’re actually very detailed and can tell you complete stories about your ancestors’ lives. Moreover, the information you find in census records is incomparable since it’s not only credible, but there’s also little chance of you finding it anywhere else.
Here are a few simple tips that can help you make the most of these records.
Learn About the Census And How It Was Recorded
By knowing about the census and how it was recorded, you’ll be able to comprehend your findings while identifying and overcoming its shortcomings.
In general, you need to know that in the US, census records were first started in 1790. Since then, the US Census Bureau has conducted a national census every 10 years. Census records have basic data on the population and households within the country for a specific period. So, the information you find in a census record is fairly basic, i.e., household composition, members’ age, sex, marital status, and perhaps occupations. Some census records may even mention other family characteristics that might prove useful for your research.
However, it’s important to remember that the US census records aren’t error-free, so it’s best to compare them to find any name or age-related mistakes.
Start from The Most Recent Records
Needless to say, many processes are perfected over time. This is true for census records as well. If you look at the oldest records, you’ll find that they look very different from the latest ones. The more recent ones offer more details and are also likely to be more accurate.
Therefore, your research will become easier if you start from recent records and work your way backward. This is especially because census records have become more detailed over time. So, the extra details would help you find older records more easily.
Pick A Relative and Go Through Each Census
Instead of going through a random search, we highly recommend searching for specific relatives in each census. Since census records were taken every 10 years, peoples’ lives greatly evolved during the period between each census. So, searching census while focusing on one relative can help you see how they’ve evolved over time since each census would reveal new information about them.
For instance, while a great uncle may appear as the youngest child of a household in one census, he may be listed as the head of household a few decades later. This will give you a deeper understanding of your ancestor’s life and growth.
In case you’re having trouble researching your ancestors in census records, you can get experts like the ones we have at DavisDNA And Family Research on board.
We offer expert DNA research assistance as well as traditional genealogy services.
Get in touch to learn more.