Friday, July 25, 2008

’Ancestor Searching’*

July, 2008
Vol. 3, # 4

*Now in the third year of distribution with over 350 subscribers!

State Census Records

State censuses have many uses for family historians. First, they can fill in the gaps between federal censuses and they can replace information lost when a federal census, such as 1890, was destroyed. Secondly is that state censuses are not closed to public scrutiny for 72 years as are the federal censuses. And finally, is that state censuses often ask different questions than were asked on federal censuses. These local censuses may have been authorized to provide some specific regional data to the local officials. For example, tallies of school-age children, military strength, grain storage, cavalry horse resources and revenue assessments. Territories often took special censuses when they were first acquired by the United States, or to prove that their populations were large enough to apply for statehood. An example being the state of Utah. A census was taken in 1856 to accompany an application for statehood.

However, not all states have a state or territorial censuses in existence. Those without are Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont. All others have something to offer. For example, in the case of Indiana, a territorial census for 1807 was taken. There was also a constitutional stipulation that a census of all white males over 21 be taken every six years starting in 1851. This was amended in 1865 to include the age of all white males and in 1877 to also include all black males over the age of 20. However, very few of these have survived. Researchers can feel very fortunate if they have an ancestor from Blackford County. For Illinois, the situation is much improved with one drawback. Besides territorial censuses taken in 1810 and 1818, there are state censuses for 1820, 1825, 1830, 1835, 1840, 1845, 1855 and 1865. The drawback: none has survived complete for every county, however. In Maryland, a special 1776 census was compiled from oaths of allegiance ordered by the new colonial government in the state. The main purpose was two-fold: a show of commitment to the new cause and also a count of potential strength of taxables, men of military age and required protection for women and children. In 1778, a second census tallied those against the Revolution. It included Quakers, Mennonites, those who refused to take oaths to the new government and Tories.

Many state censuses are available on microfilm through the LDS Church’s Family History Centers and can be found in the various state archives that house the originals. They vary greatly from state to state, and collect different kinds of information. Some states include information such as the names of household members; age, gender, race; relationships to head of household; county, state of birth; marital status; length of residence in city or town; occupation and voting status.

There are several reasons that are obvious concerning the value of the State Census. They act as supplements to information found in the federal census, they may provide the only information to be found for a given family or individual, they can fill in gaps left by missing federal censuses (i.e. 1890 Federal Census), they sometimes contain considerably more information about a family and may not be closed to the public for 72 years as is the federal census.

A word of caution when using the state census records. Remember, the reliability, amount of the population covered, and information in these censuses and their indexes varies widely. Some colonial censuses list only a fraction of the population. Some territorial censuses are padded with names of people who had died, moved on, or never existed. (Census takers were paid to go door to door with the goal of getting a head count of all people living in a particular state. Then, as today, some were excellent workers, producing accurate, legible records. They took great pains to get all pertinent information and record it on their papers. Others, however, were mainly interested in payday and did a poorer job). Some state censuses are more complete and contain more and better information than Federal census records.

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Genealogy Workshop
Fact: State censuses, where they exist, were usually provided for in state constitutions and were typically designed to determine the allotment of representatives to state legislatures. These censuses were usually taken in the years between federal censuses.
Tip: To find state census records in the LDS Family History Library Catalog do a place search for the state you need, then look for the census topics for that state. Microfilm rolls can be ordered for viewing from many local Family History Centers for a fee.

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Genealogy News

If you’re in need of forms (family group sheet, pedigree, census, etc.), a new site Free-Genealogy-Forms has appeared with downloadable forms.

With blogs becoming more commonplace, there’s one entitled Genealogy Research Group that “provides information and technical support for research efforts. Here you'll find tips, ideas and links to useful articles, sites, software and books to help you search for and organize your research”.

The summer schedule for genealogy classes at the Library is now out. Offerings are . . .

Genealogy Research Online ~

Classes are from 2 to 4 PM in the afternoon.
July 23rd, Aug. 20th and Sept. 24th

The following classes are from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.
July 29th
New England Ancestry
Aug. 26th
HeritageQuest Online
Sept. 30th

**NOTE: Basic Genealogy and Computer Skills Required.

All classes are FREE and held in the Computer Lab on Third Floor of the Main Library.
Register for classes in person or by
calling 532-2356!

The Alabama Historical Society has issued a Call for Papers to be given at its 62nd annual meeting in Tuscaloosa, AL April 23-25, 2009. The meeting is open to scholars, researchers, educators, public historians, professionals, students and lay-people who share an interest in the history of Alabama from the founding years to the present. Proposals for submission should be sent to Dr. Lonnie A. Burnett, University of Mobile, 5735 College Parkway, Mobile, AL 36613, email: by October 1, 2008.

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Check out the Heritage Room's genealogy blog ‘The Bones Collector’ at ...
More new items have been added. Make sure to bookmark it if you haven’t already.
View our new online website for any genealogy-related events by clicking through to …

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See You In The Heritage Room!
Richard White
Computer Genealogy Librarian
Huntsville-Madison County Public Library
915 Monroe Street
Huntsville, AL 35801

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