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Organize Census Forms To Know Where You Are In Census Research

Where Have You Been? - Where Are You Going?

You need to have forms to keep track of your census searches so you know who you have searched for and who you are looking for in census researching. It is critical you don't waste time doing the same searches over and over again! These are what I call 'organize census' forms.

Great-grandparents
Maternal great-grandparents

When you organize census forms you can track the progress of your census research. The forms for organizing your census searching can be several in number, each with its own purpose and format.

Some people create forms in their word processors and use their computer to keep track of all their "to do" and "done" census researching.

Other people prefer to keep paper records, and buy, download from the internet, or create their own forms and print them out on their home printers.

However you decide is your method, just do it. Without the constantly updated records, you will do many of the same census searching over and over again. That is a big waste of time and energy!

Keep Track Of The Census Information You Have Found

You can do this by family with the head of the household being the person under which you record it. Usually this would be the husband, but it is not uncommon to find widows as heads of households. All the children in the family appear in the same form as long as they still live there.

  • Name of head of household with birth date if possible
  • Year of census found
  • Source of information including repository (local library, online, etc.)
  • State/province, county, township or range, house#, family#, etc.
  • Microfilm reel# and whose (online service, government, Family History Center,etc.), enumeration district, page number. This may also include information about the database name, division of database, image number, and date of download for an online database.
  • Format you have it saved in, and location (paper transcription, photocopy, microfilm copy, digital photo, etc.)
  • Notes you may wish to make about it, such as its readability, or further investigation you wish to do based on this finding.

As children age and move out of the family home, they become the head of a new household, and warrant their own recording page.

Keep Track Of The Census Information You Are Looking For

Again, this can be kept by family under the head of the household.

These forms are your "to-do" lists for those people you are searching for in one or more censuses. It goes hand-in-hand with the one above for "done" families. Typically you may find that a single family will be on both forms for some time until you have looked up their information for all available censuses.

  • Year of census searching for
  • Source of information sought including repository
  • State/province, county, township or range you are going to look for
  • Microfilm reel number, enumeration district(s) you will look in. You may have several listings for this since names of enumeration districts or their numbers changed from census to census as populations grew.
  • If it is an indexed database, the name(s) under which you will check in the index
  • Notes which will include your success, other places to look, and any other further investigation you need to do.

Keep Track Of Where To Look For Census Information

The main concern here is that you know where you have looked before so you do not keep retracing your steps. Sometimes it is hard to remember if you looked at the census information for Caistor Township, Lincoln County, Ontario in the 1871 census for all the people you are hunting for or just some of them.

As an aside, I believe I have looked at two particular rolls of microfilm for my families at least 20 times!! Seems like a terrible waste of time, don't you think?

Some researchers combine the first two sets of information into a single family form on which all the information about a family is entered. In that case, you would need to have enough space for each census to enter all of the information from the above two lists.

It is vital to keep track of two things - who you need to find yet, and who you have already found - for each family group.

Additionally, you may want a form to keep track of repositories (name, location, hours, fees, etc.), books, online information which is not directly related to a family group for census, but which you will use to plan your next search, or the one after that.

Note that a very important part of the information you need to keep for each census on this form is the source for your successful search.

Without the source to put into your tree, other people may think you are merely making things up! Sourcing all your data, not just census data, is critical to your work.

Poor Organization Leads To Chaos!



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