Joan Kusek's "How To Dig Up Family Roots" series
Many Genealogists use Census records but are they really using them to the full potential? Here are a few tips that may help.
More Genealogical Tips
Effective Census Research
Census research can be very exciting and revealing. You will find out all sorts of information on your family. Nevertheless, do not be one of those individuals who miss the good stuff. Check out the neighbors and others close by. They may be your relatives or an ancestor you do not realize is yours now but perhaps in the future. Also, look closely at the census records. They not only provide obvious information such as the name of the person, age, etc. but they can also reveal such things as migratory patterns. Look at the children's and parent's place of birth. This will give you insight into where they came from. However, be careful, just because it says they were born in a certain place does not make it so. Many times the person who answered the census taker's questions may not have known all the facts but may have questioned or remembered their spouse or other family member talking about the place they lived and assumed they were born there. Take heart, just because this information (their place of birth) proves to be false does not make it useless. It could still be a migratory pattern. So never ignore any rumor, mistake, or error, it could be an essential clue that could lead you to the real answer.
*Don't skip census years. Many people make this mistake. Let me provide you with an example of what you may miss by doing this....
My great-great Grandfather was living with my Great-Grandfather's family in only one census. Since he was a Clark (a very common name), it would have been very difficult and taken a lot of time to find him without this one census record. My advise is not to jump back, but go back every 10 years without skipping. Be patient, it can be very rewarding.