In a survey of Ancestry.com members last year, top on your wish list was improved images for U.S. Federal Censuses. As you know, the U.S. Censuses are one of the richest sources of information for family history searches. So, improving this collection has been a top priority at Ancestry.com throughout 2009.
We’ve enhanced six new U.S. Census collections – in addition to the six we released a few months ago. In all, we’ve gone through over 200 million records to greatly improve images and many indexes.
Enhanced and clearer images are now available for the 1790-1900 censuses and indexes have been improved for the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1900 censuses. If you have had a hard time finding your ancestors in these censuses, it’s time to search again.
It’s amazing that these wonderful records that chronicle American families for the past 200 years are now available to us in the comfort of our homes. The journey that the U.S. census took from the hands of the census taker who knocked on your ancestor’s door, to the screen of your home computer is a long one. Understanding that route can help you when it comes to interpreting your finds and weighing any conflicting details the census reveals.
You’ll notice all of the images have a cleaner, crisper look. And occasionally you’ll find you can read names that were illegible before—either because they were too light, too dark, too blurry, covered in tape, or even in some cases missing, etc.
So if you found a record before that you couldn’t quite decipher (“Is that really my ancestor’s name? What is his occupation? I can’t quite make it out. . . .”) you’ll want to look again. The images will be updated on your family trees as well, so if you saved the record there, you can just revisit it on your tree.
About Heather Erickson
Heather Erickson is Head of Global Communications for Ancestry.com and has been with the company since 2009.