Using census records

Only two more posts to catch up on after this one where we chatted about census records on #ANZAncestryTime.

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Which Census records have you used? Any preferred repositories and why?

Have helped a friend using the Canadian census as well

I’ve used them recently for early Ontario immigrants and tracing them forward then a Google map their change of locations.

freecen.org.uk The aim of FreeCEN is to provide free internet searches of the 19th century UK census returns.

Scottish, English census records, I usually access at FMP or Ancestry. I prefer FMP’s search capabilities & transcriptions NSW colonial musters are great for convicts & early settlers.

I’m just looking at the US Census records for 1900 and as I hover over the column the detail comes up in a text box making it easy to read

1828 NSW census tip: there are 2 copies on Ancestry. The TNA record set is much easier to read than the Aussie record set

the best repository of transcriptions of England and Scotland census is Findmypast and Ancestry with England’s images on both sites but Scotland’s images are only on Scotland’s people. Family Search for the US

Have looked at some of the children’s census in 1826-1828 from CSO records I think.

I have used Scottish, English, Irish & US Census! I love the Scottish and US ones. The 1939 UK register is really good too

Every where that has Census records and I need to do research – Scotland, England, Ireland, USA and the States. I use FreeCen as it has better transcriptions and FamilySearch, otherwise Ancestry which has dreadful transcriptions.

Early NSW colonial census, English census – both from Ancestry – I struggle with American as my 2 x gt gd dad was from Albany Upstate New York – some records challenges there

I’ve used census.nationalarchives.ie for Irish records and FMP, Ancestry, FamilySearch for others. I prefer FMP because the search is more intuitive and seems to have “smarter” fuzzy logic

census records from Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, US, Canada (and, I think, Argentina)

Mainly used English, Scottish and Irish census records, and dabbled a bit in Canadian ones. My go to sites are usually Findmypast, Ancestry, NAI, but also found FamilySearch and The Genealogist useful on occasion to find those ones who get mistranscribed

I use Ancestry and Find My Past the latter is more up to date for 1939 register Canadian census is on the Archives site and have used it

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How have census records helped your research and added to ancestors stories? Any interesting, unsuspected or rare finds?

I think one of the most interesting things I found was the extent to which people were mobile during the 19 century, including return migration from abroad. Changed my understanding of emigration as a permanent move. Also family structure temporarily disrupted

One of my East Clare families had migrated to USA, then back to UK then to Oz. Another set had parents in Scotland.

People were surprisingly mobile! I love the households that have children born in different places.

Me too Maggie and some of the birthplaces indicate a military involvement which might otherwise be unknown

I found a little local census for Carrick on Suir in Ireland which was useful. Just one year early 1800s I think

I once found a census the minister had done for all the people in his parish, same religion or not. Very frank comments on them. Can’t remember now where it was exactly but somewhere in Northumberland.

There’s one for 1840 for my home parish Pauleen – shows some of my RC ancestors were recorded as “Protestant” at the time but also the townland where my GM was born was once known by her maiden name 🙂

Why did the townland name change? Do you know?

I’m not sure it was ever a formal townland name, just a place name. It has two other “official” names, one is the townland name, the other is almost a “field name” within the estate to which it was attached

The most difficult thing I find in Census records is grandchildren staying with grandparents or uncles and aunts and working our who they belong to

I love following a person or family through the different censuses. Just snapshot, you can miss important stuff, but gives a good idea of change over time. Follow a career or family structure as new members come or go. Address up or down market.

I like the fact you can make changes to the census records for spelling of names that have been mis transcribed

Using the Scottish census records I’ve been tracing my unmarried GGGGM from one sibling’s home to the other (1841-1881) This is where FAN approach came into its own. If I didn’t know the sister’s married name, I’d have thought GGGGM was staying with strangers

I found some of my Irish family members move around quite a bit in Scotland, between various households – can be really useful when dealing with common names, having Aunty Winifrid popping up in a household at census time

the census info is full of info, place of birth and often all family members. 1911 is particularly useful for how long couple married, how many kids born and how many are alive. US census indicate immigration info.

As we don’t have good census records for Australia since 1901, so I rely on the the Electoral Records as a substitute and I have found these invaluable – too many times to list here

I agree with you KerrieAnne. The electoral roll up to 1980 on Ancestry, but recently I was at a local history society and they had the 2000 electoral roll there!

Major libraries will probably have up to the latest rolls – at least, they do in NZ. Online access up to 1981 only.

I went to the electoral office and searched the current electoral roll for cousins that we had no contacts for a family reunion – yay for middle names – found every-one I needed. Had to search one by one though so not a quick exercise

I have discovered which ancestors were on poorhouses and which attended schools using English census records

Census records have helped confirm relationships and occupations many of the neighbours are relations

Solon Bowden was deaf. The census showed he was in a school for the deaf. What surprised me was that his sister also was, suggesting a genetic cause. The census also gives the suspected cause for all the children living there.

Finding my great grandmother’s sister in an England census with her birthplace as Ireland and her birth date was the final piece of evidence I needed to link her into the family as suspected from a DNA match.

I think finding a birthplace is probably the most useful feature of any census record Margaret. It is crucial information. That and other family members staying with them

I have a lot of those with the Scotland Census records. Children staying with grandparents. Families living next door. They are sometimes the only records I have for the older members.

Most of my discoveries are nothing really special though I remember my very early census finds for both my maternal and paternal family seemed really exciting at the time. It was finding family members that I knew nothing about, children that had died young, first spouses, etc. It was good to find out about them.

When building back pedigree charts for DNA matches, often need to use census records. Has helped in a few of dad’s lines in Canada

Couldn’t do without census records! Have been a goldmine for my research, especially with my Irish families moving to Scotland.

My husband’s Roberts ancestor from Spitalfields turned up in the Americas – there was also a surname change in England before he emigrated – census records from Ancestry from Americas & UK helped me to work it out

Census can help to find missing ancestors and other relatives. My 3x GGfather was a census enumerator. I couldn’t believe it when I first found his comments about the area at the end of the census

Welllll, I discovered my 2x Great Aunt Jeannie had 3 more illegitimate kids thanks to Scottish census records, which also led me down a rabbit hole in finding her death. It all started with a census record.

I had an Irish family named Martin who disappeared before the 1910 US Census. I found them in the 1900 census by searching first names. Turned out they were Polish names Koniescka

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What strategies or methods do you use to find people in census records and how do you record the information you find?

with Irish people in census in particular, I use a very flexible understanding of “facts” provided, especially age! 🙂 Knowing how collections/databases are organised is also really important. As for recording, excel, and local maps are really useful

when looking for a female who may of married and you cannot find a marriage or too many to choose from, I search the census by first name only along with year of birth give or take a couple of years and birthplace, then check those with marriages

I have a spreadsheet I use when doing census research. Work through families over the census years. Interested finding out about changes in residence including children leaving home. Then try to track their location.

I like to do this also Fran. Sometimes you find interesting connections between people. I found an ancestor living with a family and in it was a daughter who became his wife

Usually search one census at a time, work my way back. For extended families, I’ll set up a spreadsheet, track ages across census years, cross off census years before birth & after death, ensure I cover every household member in the years they were living.

Strategies I use to find records include checking pages nearby locations on close pages by looking forward and back for more family, trying alternative names, looking for the same location as last or next time census.

If I can’t find one member of a family I will try another. Sometimes a name is mistranscribed in the index. Sometimes the age is incorrect (I had one where 59 was read as 39). I’ll try several sources in my search.

I find FreeCen to have the best transcriptions, but their coverage is not complete even for 1841. And they correct very promptly when asked to check. I use the Scotlands People Index a lot too.

I use my census check form to keep track of families. It’s great as I can use it and file it away to keep track of my research. memoriesintime.co.nz/products/censu…

I use census records to eliminate who was NOT an ancestor when they had common names. I find every birth and then trace each person through the Census records to eliminate wrong people

Are there any tips for 1841 census in Hunter Valley NSW – sometimes I find it a struggle as people who should be but aren’t?

I find Ancestry very difficult to find many people because of the large number of errors in the indices. I correct frequently. FreeCen is always my first port of call.

I have used that often. An older person with a different name is the mother’s parent. A Census recently had the married daughter, the other was the long lost daughter of my gggrandfather living with her aunt after her mother’s death (wrong spelling).

UK Census online info ukcensusonline.com/census/faq/

Always good to check the date collection info here familysearch.org/wiki/en/Englan…

often look at next page of census, often locate other ancestors by accident. Findmypast and ancestry have most powerful search engines but transcriptions errors show up in both so have to use wildcards.

Check out people of a different surname living with a family. They are often family members and can lead to finding marriages etc

usually update each person’s profile in my offline tree which is uploaded to ancestry every so often.

Census records make me use maps a lot more to find out which towns are close to others in case family is in both

If I can’t find one member of a family I will try another. Sometimes a name is mistranscribed in the index. Sometimes the age is incorrect (I had one where 59 was read as 39). I’ll try several sources in my search.

I have tried looking for other family if I struggle to find someone or using alternative spellings found someone born Counthorpe Lincolnshire as Countesthorpe Leicestershire

I search for a person using name variations if possible and then search the whole town or village not just the result page

I add Census records to the profiles I write on @WikiTreers I can use those to show information about the family and what they were doing. I add them to my private tree on my computer. I add them to my nephew’s tree on Ancestry. #ANZAncestryTime

A surviving fragment of the England Census for 1821 (transcribed by volunteers) enabled me to identify a 4GGF in my tree.

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Some countries have no, or little, census data that is available to research, including parts of New Zealand & Australia. What alternatives can provide similar data?

Electoral rolls and directories in NZ, land valuation records in Ireland. Newspapers can also be useful to fill in those gaps.

Electoral Rolls. I use those all the time for my NZ research. The early rolls are very useful for working out when someone immigrated to NZ and where they settled. Only available on Ancestry and not all indexed. I often turn the pages to see who is there.

I have found many children using the electoral rolls that can’t be found any other way. Living at home with the parents. Used them to confirm the address my parents lived at when they were married. Same for my aunts. Found my father living with his sister.

Also on FamilySearch, and some on Findmypast, though I tend to use Ancestry in the first instance.

always worth remembering that the archives will have their state electoral rolls and in Qld they’re annotated with where the person has relocated.

I have used Ancestry’s records for issuing of Mining Licences around Glen Innes Emmaville for Chinese Tin Miners in our family network

I’ve used land records, parish census, city/county directories and jury lists/electoral registers for a very limited understanding of people’s lives in 19/early 20 C. Wills/memorials can also sometimes be useful to reconstruct families

Early almanacs at least in Tas often included directories. Earliest in the Tasmanian Almanack published by my ancestor Andrew Bent in 1825

Government Gazettes on trove can also be useful in place of census data and I have also found advertisements in newspapers listing all the voters in a town – eg Grenfell & Toowoomba

NZ jury lists helped me locate a 4xG Grandfather who had left Sydney for NZ without his wife and kids. He had form for this sort of behaviour.

Military records for WW1 and WW2 can also help

Voters lists and directories are helpful for Australian research instead of census

Irish Griffith Valuations have been wonderful for finding my Irish ancestors

I’ve had great success using Griffith’s and then the subsequent Cancelled/Revision books. Love those records!

I would use NSW BDM records where there might not be census records or to augment electoral rolls

Newspapers can be useful where they have petitions, addresses to politicians etc all signed by people in a particular district. Also local valuation rolls for rates in newspapers or govt gazettes

Government Gazettes on trove can also be useful in place of census data and I have also found advertisements in newspapers listing all the voters in a town – eg Grenfell & Toowoomba

At the @FamilySearch Wiki they say there are still some Maori census data available. Looks like Salt Lake City trip to the library required. familysearch.org/wiki/en/New_Ze…

 

Blog posts relating to census

Jennifer: the census registrar,

Helen: Solon Bowden,

Sharn: Census records,

Sue: Where is Isabella?, I’m confused, John Davey 1, John Davey 2, Garshooey,

Readers: What interesting detail have you found in a census record?

What do you do to earn a quid?

We had our regular tweeters but also joined by a few more who had specific information relating to this week’s topic.

Occupations

Questions were: 

  1. Share the resources and repositories that helped you discover ancestors’ occupations and put their work & life in context?
  2. Tell us about an ancestor with an unusual or dangerous occupation, child labour or a now-uncommon job?
  3. Are there occupations in your family that have passed down to the next generations?
  4. What resources do you review to find out more on businesses & business owners, self employed or financially independent ancestors?

Format for the post will be resources to check out, then occupations relating to our ancestors and finally some questions about unusual occupations and where to find the answers.

Resources to find information relating to occupations and context in life

  • Directories and electoral rolls
  • Census records
  • Newspapers including advertisements, articles and family notices
  • Pre UK census try UK Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures 1710-1811 (National Archives & Ancestry)
  • Public Record Offices for Government occupations
  • Birth, death and marriage records
  • Obituaries but as Sue said they are only as accurate as the informants knowledge – pioneers of the district could have been convicts in reality
  • Title Deeds to property owned list the occupation of owners
  • Apprentice records
  • Military records
  • Wills and probate records
  • 1939 register
  • UK Merchant Navy records: Register of Seamen at TNA or on FMP, Seamen’s tickets, Voyage details for crew lists.
  • Academic journals (JSTOR) through the National Library of Australia
  • Gale newspaper access for occupation background and risks of jobs.
  • Books, books, books and reading
  • Regional Archives
  • Regional and local family history society newsletters
  • Guild records from apprentice to master
  • Immigration passenger lists
  • Council Records
  • Employment lists for businesses
  • Lately bankruptcy records have been adding lots to research on employers.

Specific links

Personal responses

Angela: Census records that revealed I am descended from a ‘Herd’ and a ‘Brush’ . (I kid you not)

Fran: My Cornish miners jobs could be dangerous. The average age of death was 28th years and 4 months. So young.

Pauleen: My dad was a numbertaker – say what, an undertaker? Nope, a numbertaker or tally clerk working with freight distribution in the railway shunting yards. Not quite as dangerous as shunting but still very hazardous.

Sharn: The most dangerous occupation my ancestors had was MINING. I discovered a g g uncle was killed in a mining accident ‘killed by an explosion of fie damp’ on the Scottish Mining Website.

Jane: My ancestors all seem to have fairly standard occupations … Farmers, agricultural labourers, domestic servants, Bricklayers and other tradesmen … Although I do have a rat catcher!

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Hilary: my husband’s grandfather died after a fall working in an Ironstone quarry; my gt uncle was killed whilst working in the docks a cargo fell on him

Allie: I have lots of newspaper compositors and handloom weavers in my family, not unusual at the time but definitely rare today. Not aware of any work accidents, but I’m sure much of the work my ancestors did was dangerous or hazardous to health in the long term.

Sue: My Great great grandmothers sister married RG Winters who was a pianoforte maker. Married in England, migrated to Tasmania, Had a pianoforte factory in Elizabeth Street Hobart

ANZ: And quarry workers and stonemasons often had lung diseases….this asbestosis. Occupations were so hazardous before OH&S awareness but there are still random injuries.

Seonaid: A lot of my ancestors were ag labs, carpenters, navy or army, cab drivers, fruit and veg sales. I do have a female ancestor who took over her husband’s butchery business when he died. Although I expect that’s not unusual.

Pauleen: Generations ago I had miners in Northumberland – another dangerous occupation with the possibility of child labour though I’ve found none

Sue: I have three brothers, one my great grandfather, who survived the 1912 Mt Lyell mining disaster

ANZ: Who remembers when the rat catchers from the council would come round with their fox terriers checking for rats when people still had backyard dunnies?

Fiona: Inspector of Nuisances in a clients family. Image of one here.

Jennifer: My friend’s ancestor worked in a tiny building in the forest in Belgium checking undetonated bombs

OPS: Earlier this year our response to the A-Z Blogging Challenge featured contributions from members on a range of occupations, including Apple Crusher, Dominatrix, Jester, Number Taker, Pig-jobber and Tabernarius!

Dara: My GG-grandfather was a coachman, a servant in a big house. I love the idea of him hitching up the horses and strolling, or racing, through the streets, taking his master to where-ever. Probably my imagination pictures a more romantic version of his job.

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Jill: Husband’s ancestor, Francis Jollie Gowans, was appointed Honorary Surgeon to the King in 1937

Mining the Past: One of the next door neighbours to my miner ancestor was a pit pony driver, aged 13.  My family were miners right up until my maternal grandfather. He suffered from miners lung and had to stop hewing. He was elected pithead weighman on behalf of the miners ie checking the company weighman was weighing the coal accurately so they got paid fairly.

Sue: My great great grandfather had a fairly easy life as head gardener to the Governor of Tasmania in the 1860s and 1870s. Lots of write ups in paper about winning competitions etc

Sue: My other great great grandfather (before he was proved by DNA not to be mine) was a whaling captain and many of his descendants still keep jobs to do with water

Seonaid: Navy & army were pretty regular patterns in my family on both sides. My 3xgr gfather & 2x gr gfather were paper stainers. Found a wallpaper factory near where they lived. I do wonder how 1 ancestor went from a candle & soap worker to planemaker in 10 years.

Angela: have generations of railway workers …porters, station masters. Wonderful that their homes are listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage

Sharn: I have used newspaper advertisements and calls tender to find the buildings, houses and rail carriages a gg grandfather constructed in Sydney NSW

Jennifer: Have found business ads on Trove, Wills, Rate books

Pauleen: Court cases can tell you where someone was and who they knew. My George Kunkel was called as a witness to an equity case revealing he was a pork butcher on the gold fields at Tooloom, NSW, travelling from Ipswich Qld.

 

Brooke: When reading census records this list of old English occupations may come in handy. Researching the COLLIDGE family, I came across the occupation CLICKER; someone who worked in the shoe trade cutting out the lowers.

Sophie: One of the things I’ve been struck by in preparing the Occupations tweet series is what a range of dreadful health hazards were associated with so many jobs in yesteryear – hand planking one example

Dara: I struggle to find much information concerning many ancestors’ occupations, that is specific to their own job, other than on BMDs. Trade directories help for some tradesmen.

Pauleen: I found references to my carpenter ancestor in Ipswich burial registers. Fires, flood and disasters can bring up news stories of how my self-employed ancestors were impacted

Fran: Thinking you need to verify the occupations. On the first property we purchased the bank wrote “wife” for me and Stephen made them change it to “Product Manager” so like all sources – CHECK

Carmel: The back of directories for business advertisers

Jennifer: I do have a few ancestors who stated their occupation as ‘gentleman’. Wishful thinking I’m sure

Fran: On passenger lists I have found a number of ancestors occupations. It’s good for people that travelled often as you can see changes in roles, promotions, etc

Dara: Funnily enough, when my GGG-grandfather, who left Ireland a plasterer, became a successful building contractor in Australia, he claimed he was a Gentleman on some records.

Mining the Past: I have an ancestor in Gateshead who worked at the ‘railway staithes’. From maps identified as Dunston Staithes, the largest existing wooden structure in Europe and a visitor attraction!! Guess where I’ll be visiting next UK trip 🙂

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Society of OPS: The Gazette is another great source of business / company info for the UK

Fiona: Check @ArchivesNZ for files on the stations. Have been looking at these in the last week and have found house plans for the houses being rented and sold at the end of their use by railways.

Allie: Mostly censuses and vital records. Otherwise I’ve found a few newspaper reports and adverts that have mentioned employers or business locations, and I’ve also used street and business directories. FindMyPast is good for trade union records

Occupations often passed down through the generations included:

shoemakers, gardeners, coachmen, schoolmasters, coal miners, ag labs, merchant marines, weavers, lacemakers, railway workers, butchers, blacksmithing, tailor, pipers, compositors, watchmakers

Things to follow up on: videos, other twitter chats, competition

  • Today will be of interest to @OnePlaceStudies members engaged in our 2020 Shared Endeavour of Employment and Occupations in our #OnePlaceStudies!
  • Videos to check out from OPS , the twitter chat from the OPS Conference 2020 including occupations
  • Dr Sophie Kay has an Occupation of the day twitter hashtag. Follow it here and learn more about unusual occupations.
  • Also from Dr Sophie Kay: just a little heads-up for those of you who enjoy competitions: keep an eye out for a Twitter/blog announcement from me next month, as I’ll be running a little Xmas Quiz competition themed around the #OccupationOfTheDay strand!

Readers: Check out the OccupationOfTheDay hashtag to find out the answers to these unusual occupations.

Jacker off, Keel Fleeter, Equilibrist or Knife shaver