Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ancestry.com (Census)

Ok Ancestry.com is a great tool with a lot of information.  The only problem with the site is whatever formula they are using for results lacks common sense.  I have put in the exact name, place of residence, and birth year only to find my ancester 3 pages in.  What's up with that?

If you are researching the census and can't find your ancester via the usual query, don't give it.  You may have to do some manual research to find it.  Remember, the query results are only as good as the person that transcribed the census.  What do I mean by that?  For example, I plugged in Iadonisi, living in Dedham, MA for the 1920 census.  Nothing came up even though I knew they lived in Dedham at that time.  I knew the street that they lived on so I manualy searched the census and found them.  I noticed the I somewhat looked like an L.  I tried the query with Ladonisi and behold!

Another means of searching the census can be neighbors.  If you already have one census, try searching the neighbors names.  This is definately quicker than a manual search.

If you aren't sure if your family lived in that town during the census, see if there is a directory around that time span.  Not only will this let you know if they should be on the census but will also give you the street they lived on.  A piece of advice, do a manual lookup on the directories.  It is very simple!  Make sure you are looking at the U.S. city directories, I believe there are more directories in there than the state selection.

How do you do a manual query?  It is pretty simple.  If you want to find a directory for a specific town, do a query on the last name.  Under narrow by selection, choose Directories & Member Lists, then City & Area Directories, then U.S. City Directories.  Click browse individual records and a screen will pop up that allows you to choose the state, town, and year.  This also lets you know what years ancestry.com actually has for that town.

Join me next time for more tips!