Genealogy: Use the census records to track your ancestors’ movement over time

10-15-2014 9-06-51 AMBy Barry J. Ewell

Use the census records to track your ancestors’ movement over time, find names and rough birth years, determine relationships, learn birthplaces, find clues to the previous generation (such as their birthplace), learn street addresses, learn whether ancestors were slaves or slave owners, learn occupations, learn other country of birth, learn of other children who likely died young, learn year of immigration or naturalization, note naming patterns in your family, find clues to your family’s economic status, find some clues to education, find some clues to military service, find some clues to medical conditions, narrow year and place of marriage, learn about employment status, learn about exceptional circumstances (such as convicts and homeless children), learn native tongue, narrow death dates, and identify other potential branches of your family living nearby.

Using maps in conjunction with the census schedules is important. State and county boundaries have changed over the years, so an ancestor may have lived in the same place for years, but have been enumerated in several different counties. This is also important for urban dwellers, since city precincts also changed with time. Use of city directories and books such as those listed in guidebooks will help provide clues to possible localities.

John I. Stewart series
I have created an example of how how to research your ancestors through the various U.S. Federal census with John I. Stewart 1850-1930 Series. The John I. Stewart census example series is found in the following articles:

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