When You Find Someone In the Census

When you find a relative in a census, do at least the following:

  • make certain you are looking at the actual enumeration and not a transcription or an index;
  • make certain you know what all the headings stand for;
  • make certain you have the entire entry–some are split over multiple pages;
  • know whether the census was taken on one or multiple pages for each entry–some are both on the left and right hand page;
  • look at adjacent households for a few pages before and afterwards;
  • compare the handwriting of other entries to make certain you transcribe as accurately as possible;
  • make certain you know the census year, state, county, and other political/address information contained in the enumeration;
  • make certain you have the page number and indicate where the page number is on the page (upper left, upper right, etc.) and whether it is handwritten or stamped–this is particularly important if there are multiple page numbers on one page…not so crucial if there’s only one page number per page;
  • have the household and dwelling numbers;
  • compare the information to other known details about the family to make certain you have the “right” people.