Can You Skip the Names When Manually Searching the Census?

In the days before indexes, manual searches of census records were necessary. Sometimes that’s still true today.

One approach when the names had been totally butchered was to not read the names and look at the place of birth as well–if that was unique enough to make it practical.

That’s how these entries were located. I read the places of birth for residents of the township where the family was supposed to live and stopped at every family of Germans. Every one. And then I looked at the names more closely to see if they fit the family I needed. That was a more efficient filtering approach than reading every name in every household.

Could the census taker have indicated my Germans were born in Kentucky or elsewhere in the United States. Possibly, but the probability is low.

Sometimes you may have to read the census for an entire region, but stop yourself and ask:

do I really need to read every family in trying to find mine?

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