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#1: The census..something to ponder Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:04 am
I am still doing the volunteer work for the FHL..indexing records.

Lately, I have chosen to do the 1870 US census for NY. Their software makes this so easy to do, that the most difficult job is deciphering some of the writing...but, if you have clear writer, you dont even have to think about what you are doing.

This gives me lots of pondering time..about these people..and that time. (Or maybe I am losing it, looking at all of this.) I am typing..I am thinking. Gee..these people are nicely numbered, by family. #223, smith family..wife..5 kids. #224 jones family..husband, wife, 3 kids.

The census takers used to go door to door. Woman the info. Next house. Same. Next house. Same. Next house..nobody is home.

Question? How did the guy know how many blank lines to leave? Or did he just sit there and wait for the person to come home?

(Ya see what I mean? You get nutty after a while.)

Very few of these census pages are missing lines with writing, all of the lines have a was home? All at the same time this guy was walking around?

You get a feel for the era when you do this. The names are odd..and you could see what group of people were coming in.

I think this was the german/irish invasion. Most people came from those two places. And get this. I have indexed over 23,000 names. Maybe a dozen, were from italy..but only 2-3 had Italian last names. About the same amount hispanics (spain or cuba)..same thing..the names werent hispanic...and very few people of color..maybe 20. These figures are for 23,000 people.

I enjoy reading the professions. Coachman, sawyer, clock maker. No farm labor I found in

Anyway..I was taking a break right came to ask about...the lines. How did this guy know how many lines to leave blank..if the person wasnt home?

#2: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: nucciaLocation: Toronto, Ontario, Canada PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 3:37 am
I hear that sometimes the neighbours gave the information, and sometimes children..especially in the earlier census records. Thats why there are so many errors. If you look on the last page of the enumeration district there is usually a page with people who were not home when the census taker originally called. You will notice several street addresses on one sheet.

#3: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: ItalysearcherLocation: Sora, Italy PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:47 am
Maybe each family was recorded on a separate sheet then written up neatly and in order when they got home.

#4: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: tjbrnLocation: North Carolina PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:53 am
I must say that I've found the census a mystery on many occasions. I know from anecdotal information that some of my Italian ancestors lived in Philadelphia, for example, with several families living on the same street but none appear in a census although they should. I have corollary information which establishes house numbers but still no traces of my ancestors. The principals (the Sicilian ancestors) emigrated as early as 1901 and ended in 1907 so one would expect to find some clues in the 1910 and 1920 census. Mostly nothing shows (there are a few exceptions) until the 1930 census beyond WWI draft registration and some documents specific to the city of Philadelphia such as The Orphans Court Marriage Index and Death Certificate listings ending in 1915.

#5: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:45 am
I think I have come upon some last pages, but, I didnt notice any notations...but, I wasnt really looking. I have gotten some blank pages, which I thought to be the end.

None of these census pages are in order. I might have gotten 2 consecutive pages only a few times. You can bring up the previous or next page if you need to, just to look at. I can tell I am doing NYC and Brooklyn, by the names of the streets...but for the past few nights, from out of nowhere..they are slipping in some from upstate NY. These people have even stranger first names..and they all have farms. They must have been living there forever, because only a handful have Ireland as their birth place. One town was in clinton county? I never even heard of that..but it must be near vermont and canada, because if they werent born in NY thats where they were born.

tjbrn, I can see why the census is a mystery. I believe these census takers passed over people and they were never counted. You get a feel for them, too. To me, some, were much more smart and careful than others. Their writing is better, their spelling is better, they sometimes make notations, they number everything properly. Others...forget it. I worked for about a week, on an area in NYC where this guy numbered nothing. We have to type the family number, I assume so the FHL knows how to divide the families, since a lot of people with different names, lived in the same house/apartment. This guy would put a straight line down the column where that number should be..or..he put the street. He also decided we didnt have to know what color these people were..because he didnt add a thing there. Matter of fact...I found a lot, didnt bother with the color. You would only find the letter B..for an empty column..I guess if he happened to run across a black person.

I fully understand now, why we sometimes cant find what we are looking for. I dont know what ancestry tells their indexers, but we arent supposed to correct a misspelled name...only, a country or state is supposed to be corrected. I had been strictly following that until I found Josephine, spelled josephfean. If I see something that ridiulous..I fix it. No sense making the researcher think both the census taker AND the indexer are equally Some of the stuff, you can stare and stare at and cant figure out what it says. I take a wild guess. Better to guess, than hit the <undreadable> button.

I really am enjoying this. It goes very quickly, but sometimes I slow myself down reading things I dont have to the occupations, or what their land was worth. Nobody bothers you or emails you. A couple of times a month..right in the program, they place a message..mostly hints on how to use the program. You can set it up so when they leave a column blank, you can make the entire column say blank..before you start typing. You can also make the copies brighter or turn them to black with white writing. I never had to do this..most of what I am getting is clear.

#6: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 1:26 pm
I must really get into this stuff, bigtime. I have entered over 30,000 far.

I should make a list, of the really odd first names of some of these people. Names I have never heard of.

And why do people do this? I had a Mary Nary last I also notice, unlike the Italians, most irish and even german always had a girl named for themselves and some even attach Junior on to it. Mary Smith Junior. ???? Another thing they seem to do is..if the last name, is a first name..Like Lewis. They will name a son, Lewis Lewis. At first, I thought maybe they were confused and entered the last name twice...but nope...I am finding this a all different areas. (I am still doing the federal census for 1870 NY). I also chuckle when I find the name of some actor or actress, we know about James brown (which of course, is very popular) and several others.

Did you guys know there were farms in Brooklyn then?

I often find myself, leaving the census..and pulling up info on the net. I have pulled up different counties or towns, searching by the town name and 1800s. Last night, I had to go find a map of NY counties. I havent even heard of some of these places...since most are way north or west of me.

So see..I am doing something good for someone, while educating and entertaining,

Oh..and the reason why I am not getting consecutive pages is, I am taking just one page at a time..not a bunch. If you take a bunch, they seem to be in order. I prefer, the singles..because if you happened to get a census taker who writes poorly, you either have to send them all back one by one..or muddle thru them. I have a better chance of getting someone with decent writing, if I take one at a time. Then if I get a bad one..I dont mind suffering thru one.

Is anyone else here doing this besides me?

#7: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: nucciaLocation: Toronto, Ontario, Canada PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:20 pm
I tried for a while and am thinking of trying it again now that I am home but I don't know if I will have time. I am busy with a project for Steve Morse's site now (which I haven't even touched in months).

I am like you..I would wonder off and start looking at information, etc. How easily we get distracted, no?

#8: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 8:40 pm
I guess so. I was never interested in history or geography, before, but this stuff really interests me.

I happened to get a little of the county my kids live in. You dont see the street address, but the postoffice is there, so for some areas, I recognized the names of the area that they still use today. I wondered if I indexed someone who could have owned my sons property..since he is in one of the areas I did. A lot of the surnames..still exist in this county, today. I recognized the name of one of the historical homes, still there..which also has a jr hi school with the same name, the name of a dry cleaners and a few others..that might now be the name of are familiar to me. Knowing the area made it take me even longer to

It looks like, other than NYC which seemed to be not only first..but mixed in with these other counties, these things are going in alphabetical order. I am anxiously awaiting my own county and the county that I grew up in.

What I like about doing this is..I do it as much or as little as I want. There are times that I go in and do only a page or two..and other times, that I am at it for a couple of hours. I also like the fact that this helps people with the same interest as we have..and I think getting this stuff out very important. I only wish they had more of italy..other than the trento baptisms. Thats the only one there and in their upcoming list..there isnt any italy at all.

#9: From Eastman's Newsletter Author: nucciaLocation: Toronto, Ontario, Canada PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:17 am
FamilySearch Indexing Update

#10: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 12:21 pm
Thanks for this. Nowhere in their software, does it tell you how complete these places are. The ny one that I am doing, seems to be 55% complete. I sometimes feel like I am working on that, I had stopped getting NYC (which I assumed was manhattan because then I was getting brooklyn). Then, I was getting a bunch from upstate NY..which I thought was going in alphabetical order..until I was doing it for a while..and then it seemed random. And seems I am back to nyc again.

There were 2 updates of software since I have been there. It is very very easy to use. These 1870 censuses only require name, family number, age, m/f, color and birthplace. Its all keyboard controlled and each space remembers what you typed last for each letter of the alphabet. Like if I typed mary and go to type an m on another line, mary will appear automatically. If the name i am now typing is just type right over the mary..then the next time you see will say margaret. For new york...I type it once..then you only need to make an N and it puts new york in. Some cenus takers didnt bother filling in the color or family number. The instructions show you how to get an entire column to say blank. Because of all of these shortcuts, I can do a 40 name page in about 7 minutes.

I was surprised to see so little done on the trento baptisims. 7%. I did those a few nights. They are a pain in the neck to do..because you have to hand scroll them..left to right. The censuses auto scroll as you type. I am guessing, mostly english speaking people have volunteered because the percentage of how much is lower in the other language indexing. I was doing the italian because I could read what I needed to read, to be able to do it. I would never select any other language..since I dont think I could understand it.

Anyway, I was reading the blog on this article..and as someone mentioned..anyone interested in genealogy should try to give this a shot. I think we all know what a value this is, to get online. Its easy to do..interesting..and nobody bothers get no can send back a document, unfinished at any time. They will just send it to someone else to complete. I have sent back documents many times (but I hadnt started them yet). I look at them first..and sometimes am not in the mood to decipher a poorly written one. I send that back and pray the same guy didnt write the next

#11: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: nucciaLocation: Toronto, Ontario, Canada PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 12:29 pm

You have inspired me to try my hand at this once again. I will be home for a while so I may do a bit of indexing for them. I think with this new PC it should make things easier.

I will let you know how it goes. Right now, I am trying hard to reorganize my websites. I have really let those go and they need a major facelift me! lol

#12: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:48 pm
Sometimes, I just go in and do 2 or 3. The way I look at it..even that helps. They claim they have thousands of if everyone did a even a couple a day..its a help.

I am trying to stick to NY for selfish reasons. In their upcoming indexing they have the 1905 state census. I have never viewed that..nor any other ny state census. I figured..if this 1870 for new york gets done..maybe they will stick in the other one.

They had american indian census..but those must have gotten finished. It doesnt show in the list anymore. If you just clicked the button to download, they were sending those. They were a pain to do was 2 pages to look at to get the page sat under the other and for each had to manually move up and down. I did a few, then started clicking the button that gives you the choice of what to do.

Nuccia..the 1870 censuses go so fast..that you can do one here and there as you get bored or want to take a break from whatever else you are doing.

#13: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: DaveFerroLocation: Auburn NY PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:56 am
Enjoyed reading of your experiences in the census records. Our library has HeritageQuest available from home as well and I spent quite a bit of time going through them for people, sometimes browsing to find someone whose name has been recorded differently. Turns out the enumerator went down one side of the street all the way around the block and finally to the one I wanted.
The library history room has city directories from 1857 to present and in the older ones includes Cayuga County as well as Auburn. Yes, many strange names - biblical rooted perhaps - can't remember now the names of Mariam Angela Works' parents who lived nearby here- she was Brigham Young's first wife - will go back and check. Many books on area towns and counties plus the Irish Famine immigrants, and Italians to America. In the city directories from 1904 to 1917 the Austrians/Poles and Italians are in separate sections after the general index. They have newspapers from 1812 and of course there is Tom Tryniski's website of searchable NY newspapers at so perhaps you can search for your family.

You gave me some interesting things to think about when perusing the census.


#14: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: ElevenLocation: New York PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 10:45 am
I really am enjoying this...and the names get more odd by the page. as I mentioned, they have this master list for last names, first names and the states (probably so people spell them right). Because a name doesnt show on their doesnt mean it isnt a just means it isnt on their list. I have come across some names..that are clearly written, I type them way is this a must be spelled wrong..and wouldnt you know it..its on the list. Sometimes, if you dont look at the m/f area, you cant tell if its a man or a woman. I was thinking of making a list of these odd names..but, I think that would slow me way down. Some of these names are just I couldnt imagine someone sticking them on a poor little baby.

I was glad to read that ancestry has two people doing the same work and a third then checks it if they dont match up. I KNOW I have had to type in a lot of things, using my best guess. Nohing bothers me more..than knowing the surname I entered could be incorrect. I know what its like not to be able to find your people, because of that. The rest of the line, doesnt matter much..but, I feel all is lost, practically, if that surname is wrong. I do hope the FHL is doing what ancestry is doing..and has other people checking out possible errors. I know that sometimes, people see things differently. There are times, I type a name...blink..look at it again..and what it should clear as a bell. It reminds me of those pictures we see on the net sometimes..where if looked at it closely you see one thing..and if you back looks like something else.

I have been doing this for about two months now. I am almost at the 40,000 mark (names entered).

#15: Re: The census..something to ponder Author: DaveFerroLocation: Auburn NY PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:26 am
Finally looked up the names of the parents of Miriam Angela Works Young: Asa and Jerusha Works - perhaps the mother's name is derived from Jerusalem.

While looking for relatives of my cousin's husband in Canandaigua, NY I found several Beechers in the 1875 history - not his ancestor Patrick, but some interesting names next to each other:
Beecher, Cileria
Beecher, Wealthy

Not sure of the first spelling, but can you imagine the life of the second person?

As for occupations, our neighbors told me that their grandmother was a servant in the Kaiser's home; when she immigrated, they had to conceal her Jewish ancestry in order to get her out of Germany. In the city directory, her occupation is listed as servant, holding on to that term. The grandfather was a milkman, and my neighbor says her father told her he used to ride with him in the horse-drawn milk wagon. She was excited when I gave her the census with her family all listed there, as was I to find it for her.


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