Kinsearching July 22, 2012




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Instead of slacking off, the popularity of the “Genealogy at a Glance” guides remains high and stands a good chance of increasing even more as new additions to the series appear. One of the latest, U. S. Federal Census Records by Kory L. Meyerink, became available at about the same time as the release of the 1940 population schedule for public use.

     Following the standard format of the series, Meyerink condenses into four laminated pages an overview of some basics that researchers need to know in order to take full advantage of information contained in the federal censuses of the United States. Since the population enumerations have been taken every ten years since 1790, they are perhaps the best known and one of the most commonly used of all genealogical resources. Meyerink provides two charts that demonstrate how content requirements of the schedules vary from decade to decade. For example, only the names of the heads of households appear on the 1790-1840 censuses. From 1850 to 1940, however, the schedules are the best source for identifying persons who lived during that time frame because each census lists the names of all individuals, their age, gender, place of birth, relationship to head of household, and occupation. (Exceptions, especially in the nineteenth century, may include names of children who were born and died between censuses and people whom enumerators missed for some reason, such as a family in the process of moving from a county or state as the census was being compiled; conversely, the same family may appear in two different places on a census because of the timing of their move.) Due to a seventy-two-year restriction, the schedules for 1950-2010 are not available for use by the general public.

     Because most census research today is conducted online, Meyerink devotes space to the subject of census indexes and their limitations. (Genealogists should be aware that the 1940 schedule does not currently have a complete index.) For instance, researchers may not find a name because it was misspelled by the census enumerator or it was copied incorrectly by the census indexer. If they cannot locate a name, genealogists should try as many variant spellings as possible. Since alternate versions of surnames are often based on the Soundex system of phonetic spellings, Meyerink explains how the method works. To increase the chance of discovering names of individuals, the author furnishes some general strategies for census research and specific considerations for online websites. The booklet ends with URLs for online resources and a list of reference works.

     Like the other items in the “Genealogy at a Glance” series, Meyerink’s publication supplies a wealth of information in a compact space. U. S. Federal Census Records is a handy guide that will be useful to all family researchers.

     To the guide's price of $8.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4.50 for one item and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $6.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional item. The guide (item order 3874) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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