August 12, 2013

Searching Census Records – Compare Sources

It can be very frustrating when tracking a family group in the federal census and they suddenly disappear.  Perhaps they moved or died … or maybe they were incorrectly indexed or the census taker’s spelling or handwriting was awful.

I have found it most helpful to check and compare census holdings on Ancestry, Family Search and Heritage Quest.  Most public libraries will provide free access to Heritage Quest (I can check in online from home).  Each of these websites used different transcribers, so their interpretation of the written page may produce different results.

I have been working on the Kelder family in Ulster County NY and thus far have found them as Kelder, Elder, Keller, Calder, Cowder and Kelde.  If one member of the family has an unusual first name,that might be the most direct way to find the various versions of the surname.  But when you have many named John with a wife or daughter named Sarah, checking all three online options has proven best for me.

By the way, when looking for Gertrude who was born in Holland, I found her listed as something like Cornelia  born in New York.  Her husband was Cornelius and I believe she was widowed in that particular census … so maybe it was meant to be Mrs Cornelius. Be certain you evaluate your potential matches, even the odd ones … they might be just what you are looking for.

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