Census Tips

Contributed by Bill Bertrand

1. Surnames, and even first names are commonly misspelled. Look for any possible manner in which a barely literate census taker might have recorded the name.

2. Absence of a household from a census report is not proof a family was not present in the county. Many residents were missed in the censuses.

3. Young families may still have been living in the household of a parent or relative. Suspect this is the case when there are young children with young adults in the household of older adults. Thus if your ancestor was married and had children by 1830, for example, he may not be listed by name in the census report if he were living in someone else's household.

4. The most common error appears to be in ages recorded. Do not be dismayed if ages of family members do not entirely agree from one census to the next.

5. In the 1830 and 1840 census reports it is possible for an adult to correctly be in the same age category for both census reports. For example, a man born in 1800 might be censused in 1830 after his birthday and listed as age 30-39, then censused in 1840 before his birthday and listed as age 30-39.

6. Errors may appear even in the number and/or sex of the members in the household. Occasionally census takers gathered information on a family from the family's neighbors, if the family was not home.

7. Some families were censused twice in the same year, and appear twice in the report. Census takers were sometimes not clear on the boundaries of the district they were to census, leading to overlap where a family was interviewed by two different census takers. This also explains some of the families missed in the census. Families censused twice sometimes provided different information each time, so don't assume that there is two separate families based upon minor discrepancies in the data reported.

Bill has generously offered to share his expertise with you.
If you'd like assistance working with the early Pulaski County census, please contact Bill Bertrand


Last Update Thursday, 20-Dec-2012 10:56:05 EST

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