Next-level Hints for Using Census Records

GeneosityGenealogy Blog

census records tricks tips famil research

You’re pretty well-versed in the basics of using census records to help you in your genealogy research. You are ready to take it to the next level!

Here are three tricks you might not yet have in your ancestor-finding toolbox, and they might help you find that one person you’ve been searching for.

1. If your family is at the bottom of an image or page, make sure to click the arrow to view the next page.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had everyone, only to look on the following page in the record and find the mother-in-law I had always wondered about, or a child I didn’t previously know was a member of the family.

2. Look for your family based on the address of an earlier or later census, not just by searching for their names.

Unfortunately, names can be indexed incorrectly; even a surname as common as Smith can be typed in as Smythe, South, or even Sith. Sometimes that’s due to difficulties in reading the printed image, or in deciphering older forms of cursive writing used in various locations.

Using a soundex search can help, but if you really want to work like a professional, take note of your ancestors’ address in a census record. You can then search in the previous years’ census records by location.

3. Search using the names of a neighbor.

Again, this may give you a way around misspellings that stymie your best efforts to find the person you’re seeking. In the past, people were much less mobile than they are today; they often lived in the same home from birth until death.

There’s a good chance that you can find your great-great-grandparents living next to the same family for several consecutive decades.

Did you experience a breakthrough using one of these hints? We’d love to hear about it.