8 Reasons (and more…) Why Your Genealogy Research Needs Census Records

Introduction: What is a Census?

A census is a survey of a population, usually the whole population. This includes questions about age, occupation, household relationships, income and more.

Census records can provide a lot of information about your ancestors and their place of origin. It is the best source for information such as:

What was the occupation of your ancestor?

What were his/her living conditions?

How many children did they have and what was their gender?

Where did they live in relation to other family members?

How many years did they live in the same country, state, county, city etc.?

These are just a few questions that can be answered by census records and in my opinion is the best resource for building a family tree and making connections with distant relatives.

The most common type of census is the decennial census. This is conducted every 10 years and it helps to collect information about the entire population.

The United States Census Bureau has a number of different kinds of censuses to help collect information about the population living in the U.S. There are three types of census’s, the decennial census, a population survey and a sample survey.

There are two types of census’s in Canada: the National Census and the Regional Census. The National Census is conducted every five years by Statistics Canada to provide information about population, dwelling, language, etc. It is mandatory for all Canadians to participate in this census. The regional census is made up of smaller surveys that are done annually or biannually. The National Census is an extremely detailed survey that lasts for 10 days. However, these surveys can be completed in about 30 minutes. These smaller surveys are less detailed than the National Census but provide valuable information to the government.

A census record can provide a lot of information about your ancestors and their place of origin. It is the best source for building a family tree and making any connections to distant relatives.
Which Census Records are the Most Useful for Genealogists?

The most useful census records for genealogists in Canada are those taken by the British and British North American governments.

A census is a count and description of the population, usually of a country. They are conducted by a national census agency and typically happen every 10 years.

The most useful census records for genealogists vary depending on what you are looking for. For example, if you want to find your family members who were born overseas you would be better off using the Immigration Records. If you want to find out about your ancestors who were living in Australia at the time of Federation (1901) then it would be more helpful to use the Australian Census 1901-1921.

Ancestry.co.uk is the site that has the most complete census records for the UK, Canada, and Australia. The 1871 census records are one of the best starting points for any family historian because they are indexable and searchable online at Ancestry.co.uk for free.

There are five different types of records that you could find at Ancestry: birth, marriage, death, census, and wills. Some of these records will be more relevant than others depending on what you’re looking for in your family tree research journey.

In the US, the 1900 Census is one of the most popular records for genealogists. It was the first census to include questions such as place of birth, occupation, and marital status. The 1910 Census includes family relationships and age while the 1920 Census has a question about citizenship status.

It can be difficult to find out which records are best for each individual case. For example, if you want to search for a specific person and know their date of birth and last name, then the 1940 Census is your best bet. But if all you know is that they were born in America in 1912 then it would be better to use the 1900 Census because there was no 1940 census in that year.

Reading a Census Record?

Census records are a valuable resource when researching genealogies. They provide personal information of all the people living in a specific area at one point in time.

Depending on the country, the census is taken every 10 years, and in some cases every 5 years. A census is an official count of the population.

The following are some tips for reading census records:

1) When reading the entries, it is important to check for missing columns or rows. In many cases, not all columns/rows will be complete due to different reasons. The most common reason for this would be because the person was too young or too old to answer certain questions.

2) Columns with a “0” should also be considered when scanning through a record. If the column is not important for the topic, it should be left blank or have a “0” value. This is to keep the data organized and easy to read.

Why Should I Be Looking for Census Records In My Genealogy Research?

We should start with the census records because they give us the most accurate family data. They include our family members, their ages, birthplaces, occupations and other information that is often hard to find in other records.

The oldest federal census was conducted in 1790 and at that time there were only 6 states in the union. The next census was carried out in 1800 with 2 more states added to make a total of 8 states. The 1810 census was the first one to count all of the states except Vermont which refused to take part due to its small population size.

Census records are also good for finding where your ancestors lived because they list every person’s home county or state when it was recorded by officials at that time.

8 Fantastic Reasons to Use a Genealogical Census System in Your Family History Search!

In this section, we will read about eight reasons and advantages of using a census in your genealogy research.

  1. A census is a document that records the population and demographic information of a specific region. It is a list of all the people who live in one specific place at a given moment in time.
  2. Censuses are important for genealogists because they can provide vital information about ancestors, such as where they lived and what family members they had.
  3. Census records can also provide the last known date of an ancestor’s birth, marriage, death or immigration. In addition to that, censuses can be used to estimate an ancestor’s birthplace and occupation.
  4. A genealogical census system is a great way to organize and manage your research. It not only simplifies the process of finding and organizing information, but it also can make your research more worthwhile!
  5. Census systems typically work like this: you assign every family member (or important ancestor) a unique identifier. You then save all of their records in one file, which makes it easy for you to find them later on if you need to do more research on that particular ancestor or family member.
  6. Census systems can be as elaborate as you want them to be! Some people create detailed census sheets that include physical descriptions of each family member, occupations, birth dates and death dates, marriages and divorces – anything else they might want to know about their ancestors.
  7. Census sheets are a wonderful way to document the history of a family. They can be compiled for any group or organization and contain an extensive list of details about its members. Collections of this information have been used in the past to help people find their family members, research their genealogy, and discover more about their heritage.
  8. Ancestry.com’s new family tree feature, launched in 2016, allows individuals to add occupations, birth dates and death dates, marriages and divorces – anything else they might want to know about their ancestors. Others simply use it as a quick resource to quickly find the names of the parents or children of a person they’re researching.

Ancestry is a website where you can use census records to research your genealogical and family tree online. Ancestry lets you enter a name and find out family relations, immigration, military records, photos, and more.

How to Find the Year of Birth on a US Census Record?

The Census Bureau created the American Community Survey in 1997 to replace the census long form. The survey is an ongoing survey of about 280,000 households each month, so there may be a delay in reporting birth dates which are for babies born since the last update.

Disclaimer: The following information is provided as a courtesy and not as an official judgement from the US Census Bureau.

Value of Census Records

Census records are a valuable resource for genealogists. They provide information on where your ancestors were living, the occupations they held, their relationship to other family members and who their neighbors were. The census can also provide clues for finding land or property records that might not otherwise be accessible.

Conclusion: The Importance of the Census in Our Family History Search

The census is one of the most important and accessible sources for genealogy research. Census records provide a wealth of detailed information about our ancestors: their names, ages, birthplace, occupation, and residence.

Census records can be accessed through both online databases and on microfilm at your local library. In the US, the National Archives has digitized over 33 million pages of census records with more than 2.5 million images available for viewing on their website.

The census records are easily accessible for researchers because it is available online, searchable by county, state, year and township. The census records are the most useful tool in tracing back your family lineage.

Places To Search for Census Records

To help you along in your ancestral research here are some links to help you in your research for the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.

In the US – https://www.archives.gov/research/census and https://www.familysearch.org/en/blog/u-s-census-records

In Canada – https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx and https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Canada_Census

In the UK – https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/census-records/ and https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/England_Census

In Australia – https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Australia_Census

Note: To assist you in your research below are more valuable links for census’s.

Canada Census Records Explained! on the Genealogy Guide website is an easy detailed and an excellent article to read.

In the U.S., About Census Records at the National Archives

Canada, Censuses at the Library and Archives Canada and download the PDF Tracing Your Ancestors. In Canada from the Collections Canada website.

In Australia, a good place to start searching for Census Records is from Public Records and the NSW Government – State Archives and Records

If you are a member of Ancestry, a good place to start is the ‘Census and Voter Lists’. Other places for censuses with paid & free to do some genealogical research are:

This blog is also available on discovering-your-past.blogspot.com

Using Genealogy Research Sheets To Help You Track Your Family History

What is a Genealogy Research Sheet?

A Genealogy Research Sheet is a genealogical research tool that helps to organize and document the information gathered during a genealogical search.

Using the Genealogy Research Sheet, researchers can create an organized and detailed checklist of all the information they have found. The sheet should include all possible sources for this information such as census records, vital records, oral history interviews, and any other items that were found during research.

The sheet’s columns are typically labelled as “Name”, “Date”, “Location” or “Source”. These columns can then be filled with important details such as birth date, death date, marriage date, etc.

How to Make a Genealogy Research Sheet For Your Family Tree & Individual Records

A genealogy research sheet is a compact tool for organizing your family tree research. It can be used to generate lists of records for each person in your family tree. By doing so, you will be able to easily find the information you need without having to search through piles of files or memories with dates and details all jumbled together.

A genealogy research sheet can be done by hand or on a computer using an Excel spreadsheet. It’s not complicated, but it does require some effort at the beginning if you want the finished product to help you efficiently with your genealogy research.

What to Put on a Genealogy Research Sheet and How It Will Help You Find Your Family’s History

A research sheet is where genealogists put important information about the family they are researching.

An example of a family tree research sheet:

In this section, I am going to be talking about what to put on a genealogy research sheet and how it can help you find your family history. A research sheet is a document where genealogists put important information about the family they are researching.

A typical genealogy research sheet (such as a ‘Family Record Sheet’ Link to last blog post) includes things like parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, children and grandchildren. It also includes birth dates and birthplaces as well as any marriages or divorces that have happened so far. The most important thing on this form is birth dates and birthplaces as those will be the easiest way for you to find out who your ancestors

Different Types of Genealogy Research Sheets And Which One Is Best for You?

As genealogy research becomes increasingly popular, the availability of genealogy research sheets has grown.

It is difficult to say what is the best genealogy research sheet out there because it largely depends on the user’s needs. However, they can be categorized into three categories:

1. Clean and Simple Genealogy Research Sheets: Finding information about your family history can be a long and tedious process. With the right tools, it is possible to simplify these tasks. Genealogy research sheets are a great way to organize and store your family tree records in one place. They are usually simple and straightforward but provide a great overview of your family’s records.

2. Advanced Genealogy Research Sheets: These genealogy sheets offer a lot more information than clean and simple ones and require more time for reading due to their complexity level.

3. Family Tree Software: Genealogy software is probably the most expensive but also the most powerful as it merges all of your family records into one place. It can be used for many functions, but one of the most popular is for genealogy research. Many different types of software are available, ranging in price from free to hundreds of dollars.

Keep your records in an orderly and methodical manner.

Enjoy ‘Discovering Your Past‘ and learning about Genealogy.

Charts and Sheets Part 2 of 2

Family Group Sheets

Great! You’re back to go onto the next step in recording your ancestors stories.

As I had mentioned in the previous blog on Pedigree Charts, there are lots of resources online to download charts and sheets for your use. I recommend downloading the forms from the ‘National Genealogical Society or NGS‘.

The two charts that I previously recommended you to download were the ‘Pedigree Chart’ a one page document and the ‘Family Group Sheet’, a three page document.

Family Group Sheet

You could use a standalone or an online genealogy program but I would strongly suggest doing it by hand first. You will learn a lot more and the tools you gain will show in your finished charts and forms.

So now that you have finished your first ‘Pedigree Chart‘, now you can begin working on a ‘Family Group Sheet‘, starting with your family.

Family Group Sheets are primarily used to summarize vital information about families. This sheet is for recording family units displaying information about the parents and children. The sheets and records will also show birth, marriage and death information, additional spouses, names of husband’s and wife’s parents, information about the children and their spouse.

These sheets can be used as a quick reference. If you have hit a brick wall, and you need to find answers to a family puzzle then these sheets can help you find an answer. Organizing your family tree with these forms will keep you organized and you can access data very quickly with them. It is a good practice to occasionally revisit your sources in your document and ensure they are properly recorded and updated with any new source material. These forms could also jog a memory and story from one of your relatives of someone who is in your tree.

Gathering sources can be anything of importance or something that can be attached to a person in your tree. Some of the info or artifacts could be part of your family genealogy treasures. Sources may include:

  • Recollections from your own memories
  • Family heirlooms, journals, old photographs, scrapbook, diaries, etc
  • Interviews with family members on and audio or video recording
  • Vital and Church records such as birth, christening/baptism, marriage, divorce, death records,etc
  • Online sources such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, FindMyPast.com or FamilySearch.org

If you have any information that can be added to your Family Record Sheet, record the information and who you got it from, and the date you received it.

Remember the rules for documenting genealogy from the previous blog, ‘Starting Your Family Tree with Charts and Sheets – Part 1 of 2 – Pedigree Charts’. Review the rules. Tips and practices to pay attention to are:

  1. Write surnames in capital letters to distinguish last names from first and middle names. Always list last name first when recording names. Do not abbreviate names and record nicknames in quotation marks. (ie JONES, Harold “Red” Walter). If you know the middle name, spell it out as the person may have gone by their middle name when they were living and would help you when you are searching census records or newspaper articles. Record names by entering the full name: last, first, and middle.
  2. List women’s maiden names, not their married names and if you don’t know the maiden name just put a ? in the area for the surname. If the woman has been married more than once then it is a good idea to record other married names in brackets (ie WHITE/ALBERTSON). This can also help in your research.
  3. For consistency, it is best practice to format dates as <day, month, full year>. For example record the date as 21 December 1867. In your research you may have to record dates as either Unknown, 1867, before 1902 or after 1936.

Since we are starting on your family, you will fill in information about your father. First you need to record and fill in the area at the top for ‘Name and/or Date” and to the right the area for ‘Place”.

Start filling in the information on the husband. Enter his name, his date of birth, marriage info, etc then go down to the wife and enter as much information as possible on her and then into each of the children’s data sheet areas. There are data areas for nine children, if you need more to record, print out an extra <Page 3> and input your information and findings.

After you have filled in the information on all the children, record any sources you may have into the allotted areas on the forms.

Citing Sources is very important for genealogists and I highly recommend reading an article by John Wylie on genealogy.com, ‘How to Cite Sources – Recording Where Your Find Information’ it is excellent; the do’s and don’t s. Once you read this article you will have a much better understanding why you should do it.

Another article by Rhonda R. McClure, also on genealogy.com, ‘Citing Sources You Find Online, Overheard in GenForum, October 24, 2002’, is worth reading as well!

Get into the habit recording sources so that your Genealogy Charts and Sheets are properly documented.

The last thing you should do is on the bottom of each sheet you need to fill the area ‘Prepared By/Date‘.

Occasionally you will have to revisit each Family Record Sheet and make any necessary changes or amendments.

At this time the forms are completed and you will need to store them away properly in document protectors. I would suggest putting the ‘Pedigree Chart‘ and ‘Family Record Sheet‘ together into three-ring binder and colour code them by families. Doing this will preserve and keep them safe.

Next, complete a Family Group Sheet on another family unit. Start your next one with your grandparents on your paternal side and then one on your maternal side of the family.

Doing a web search on Google will give you plenty of info on researching your family tree. I tried a video search for ‘How to Cite Sources for Researching Genealogy’ and you will be amazed on the information available. Check it out. There are lots of videos on ‘Citing Sources’ and soon you will become an expert in genealogy in no time at all.

Enjoy ‘Discovering Your Past‘ and learning about Genealogy. Learn everything you can and share your tree with others in your family and/or other genealogists.