Monday, December 29, 2014

One Step That Will Improve Your Census Research

Use the instructions to your advantage

They were my family all along but until I read the instructions the facts didn't support that conclusion.

Census For Dummies - Desperately Seeking Surnames

Ancestry Provides Source and Detailed Information for their Record Sets

It's up to us, the researcher, to take advantage of the valuable information that is available regarding the record sets we access. Time and time again, lecture after lecture, session after session we are told "familiarize yourself with the record sets you are working with." In order to correctly draw conclusions, you have to know what the records are saying and how they are saying it.

The longer I spend performing genealogy research the more I understand how valuable that advice is. Now, thanks to a more studious fellow researcher, I am a total believer. You know that saying "you buy em books and you buy em books but you can't make em read them"? That's me, I wasn't reading more than the covers.

Reading the Enumerators Instructions Can Eliminate Frustration

Enumerator instructions for the 1841 England Census 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010.

Henry, Jane, James, Esther, Thomas and Sarah were together as a family unit in the 1841 England Census, right where I expected them to be in Mile End New Town. However, I couldn't get past the ages listed, some were wrong. This looked like my family but the parents were too young to be my family, or so I thought.

There was my Brimson family right where they were supposed to be

Thankfully, a fellow Brimson researcher did read the instructions and pointed out to me that the enumerators were instructed to round the ages down to the nearest 5 years. Why? What sense that makes I have no idea but it is what it is. No matter the reason, if I too round down to the nearest 5 years, this Brimson family becomes my Brimson family.

It is now time to go back and read the instructions, all of them.