More AncestryPress Tips on the Ancestry Blog

AncestryPress copy.bmpWas just browsing the Ancestry blog this morning and noticed that Stephanie Condie has posted more tips and some new features of AncestryPress. With the family project I mentioned a few weeks ago still in progress, I was grateful for the new information and thought you would like to know about them too. Here are the links to the new post:


1891 Census of Canada Posted at Ancestry logo.bmpThis week Ancestry posted an every-name index (4.5 million names), linked to images of the 1891 Canadian Census. The 1891 census includes seven provinces – British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec – and the Northwest Territories, which at the time was comprised of the districts of Alberta, Assiniboia East, Assiniboia West, Saskatchewan, and Mackenzie River. Other unorganized territories are also included.

The 1891 Census was begun on 6 April 1891. The head of household was to be enumerated first, followed by other members of the household. The head of household was responsible for providing all of the information about the household to the enumerator. The following questions were asked by enumerators:

  • Number of family, household, or institution in order of visitation
  • Name of each person in family or household on 6 April 1891
  • Relation to head of family or head of household
  • Sex (M = Male; F = Female)
  • Age
  • Marital Status (Single, Married, Widowed, or Divorced)
  • Country or province of birth
  • Whether French Canadian
  • Birthplace of father
  • Birthplace of mother
  • Religion
  • Profession, occupation, or trade
  • Employer
  • Wage Earner
  • Whether unemployed during the week preceding the census
  • If an employer, state the average number of hands employed during the year
  • Whether able to read and write
  • Whether deaf and dumb, blind, or of an unsound mind

The 1891 Census is available to Ancestry members with World Deluxe or memberships and can be searched here.

FamilySearch and Team to Publish New Images and Enhanced Indexes to the U.S. Censuses


New 1900 Census Images Now Available on; Volunteer Indexers Sought to Improve the 1920 U.S. Census IndexFamilySearch.bmp

SALT LAKE CITY— and FamilySearch, the two largest online family history resources, announced today they will exchange records and resources to make more historical records available online. The first project is a joint initiative to significantly enhance the online U.S. Federal Census Collection (1790 to 1930). The original census records are among the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

FamilySearch is digitally converting master microfilm copies of the original U.S. Federal Censuses from 1790 through 1930 and, under this agreement, will give these improved images to All census images and indexes will be available on for subscribers. As projects are completed, images will be available for free in NARA reading rooms and FamilySearch’s 4,500 Family History Centers., which currently offers indexes and images to the entire publicly available U.S. Federal Census Collection, will give FamilySearch copies of its existing census indexes. Through its online indexing system and community of volunteer indexers, FamilySearch is already indexing select censuses. FamilySearch will merge the indexes with the new FamilySearch indexes to create enhanced census indexes, which will be added to both sites. Indexes to the enhanced censuses will be free on for a limited time as they are completed. Indexes will also be available for free on

Allen Weinstein, the Archivist of the United States, welcomed this agreement as a significant benefit for researchers. He remarked that, “Census records are among the most important documents the American people have to trace their genealogy and know their family history. Having two of our partners working together to enhance the indexes and images of these essential documents will enable an unprecedented level of access and understanding.”

The first census exchanged is the 1900 U.S. Census. FamilySearch completed a 1900 index in addition to’s original. In the new index, FamilySearch added several new fields of searchable data, such as birth month and birth year, so individuals can search for ancestors more easily. The two indexes will be merged into an enhanced index, available on both sites. The new 1900 census images are now available on The enhanced 1900 index will be available for free for a limited time at and ongoing at will also provide FamilySearch its original 1920 U.S. Census index. Using the index as a first transcription, FamilySearch will create a new second index with added fields and arbitrate any discrepancies between the two indexes. The 1920 project is currently in progress. Individuals interested in helping create the improved index can volunteer at Once completed, the enhanced 1920 index will be available on both sites and will link back to images on

The 1850 through 1870 (partial) and 1880 and 1900 U.S. Censuses can be searched currently at; all publicly available U.S. Censuses are already available on

Tim Sullivan, president and CEO of The Generations Network, Inc., parent company of, said, “This collaboration represents a significant step forward in making family history research more accessible. The enhanced U.S. Federal Census Collection that will become available through this agreement is a gold mine for family history researchers, and we look forward to collaborating with FamilySearch in identifying other opportunities to help people discover their roots.”

“The U.S. Censuses are arguably the most important collection of U.S. genealogical records. FamilySearch is excited to see the complete, improved indexes of these collections freely available online over the next two years. And we look forward to working with to enhance access to additional, significant collections in the future,” said Jay Verkler, Managing Director for FamilySearch. Continue reading

New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo1.bmpPosted This Week

Coming Soon
The following records will soon be added on

  • North Dakota State Census, 1915 and 1925
  • Illinois State Census, 1825, 1835, 1840, 1845, 1855, 1865

Weekly Planner: Read a Historical Newspaper

Lou_paper.bmpOne morning this week, after you read the morning paper with your coffee, why not get a little history lesson and read a historical newspaper online too. Ancestry has a large historical newspaper collection and a growing number of free newspaper archives are turning up online. The New York Times  is free for most years, as is the Chicago Tribune, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Even if your ancestor doesn’t live in one of these locations, the coverage in these newspapers was international and you may learn about events in areas of the world where your ancestors were living. Once you find an event that you believe may have impacted your ancestor, use that as a springboard and research the topic more thoroughly through books, the Internet, local histories, and other newspaper articles. You can find links to more newspapers through Joe Beine’s Genealogy Research Guide and Cyndi’s List.

Your Ancestor’s Disappearing Act, by Juliana Smith

Last week my article focused on some of the frustrations I’ve run into researching ancestors who were a bit on the “casual” side when it came to listing their ages. And from the response we got on the blog from you, it’s very clear we’re all in the same boat when it comes to that particular problem. Thanks to everyone who shared their stories and the explanations you found for age discrepancies! They made for fascinating reading. I particularly enjoyed Barbara’s mother’s reasoning that incorrect ages were “to confuse the angel of death.” Hey, whatever works! (If you missed the last week’s column or want to see what other readers had to say, you can find the article on the blog.)

If there’s one thing worse than an ancestor with flexible birth dates though, it’s one who vanishes for no apparent reason. You’re cruising along finding him consistently where he’s supposed to be, and wham-mo! Suddenly he’s gone without a trace. So how do we pick up the trail again? While there’s no magic remedy, let’s look at some techniques that can help us locate ancestors with a disappearing act.

Make Sure He’s Really Gone
Before you call out the search party, make sure your ancestor is really gone. If you can’t find him in the census, try city directories or alternative sources. He may just be hiding behind a misspelled or mis-transcribed name, or perhaps the enumerator missed him entirely. Until 1920, the majority of Americans lived in what was classified as a rural environment, and in 1850, 84.6 percent of the population was in those rural areas. This meant that in many areas enumerators couldn’t just zip up and down the street gathering names. They had some serious ground to cover, and it’s not a stretch to think that they probably missed some remote residences.

If you haven’t already, create a timeline for the ancestor with an entry for each record you’ve collected, along with his location at that time. (More on creating timelines can be found in the Ancestry Library.) As you track them year by year, you may get a better feel for exactly when they disappeared and maybe even where they might have gone. Continue reading

These Are a Few More of My Favorite Things, by Paula Stuart-Warren, CG

Do you remember Julie Andrews singing the words from that song in Sound of Music? I just found the full lyrics online and am amazed that the words don’t include the things I am thinking about as I write this. What are those things for me? I love the hugs of the grandchildren, soft pillows, remotes for the TV, radio, and the garage door–and so many people and things that I am blessed to have in my life.

Then there are the items related to my passion about family history. I recently listed some of my favorite electronic things on my blog. That list was short and I have some more that you may not know about or use often enough.

Custom Printing at Ancestry
Ancestry recently added a “free and easy customized printing” option for images, which now pops up when you hit the print button in the advanced viewer. I was able to crop, enlarge, and add notations (besides doing some other tailoring) to my image before I printed it. Additionally, the image now has a source citation!

Drouin Collection
I recently found another sibling of one of my maternal third great-grandmothers using the Drouin Collection at Ancestry. I am also putting together more siblings for that grandmother’s French-Canadian husband. His family frequently changed parishes. As of now, these Quebec vital and church records from 1621-1967 have 29 million names indexed and 8 million more will be added later this year. Another reason to keep checking back in databases. Also, the Drouin Collection is not limited to French-Canadians. This child I found has an English, German, and Irish background.

High-Speed Internet
If this service is not in your budget now, put it higher on the list of desired items. Today’s websites and databases are heavy with graphics and information that is excruciatingly slow with dial-up access. You save a lot of time and frustration. I value this more than cable TV. This is an important tool for those not able to get out to libraries, conferences, and archives. Hint to loved ones that a nice birthday or other special day gift would be a check to pay for several months of the service.

I also love networked wireless electronics that enable me to sit in one room with my laptop computer and print in another room. The wireless also allows not having to be tethered to a cable in order to work on my computer when I want to sit in the recliner and put my feet up. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: The Value of Browsing, from Michael John Neill

Don’t get me wrong, I love the “point and click” way in which individuals can be located in the census. It can save an inordinate amount of time when looking for an individual when the location is unknown. However, looking at only the “hit” on the census page can cause the researcher to miss clues about the ancestor and his or her neighborhood.

Looking at the place of birth for the neighbors can indicate whether your ancestor is in the majority or minority when compared to his neighborhood and indicate the ethnic mix of the neighborhood.

Looking at the occupation of the neighbors can also provide clues about the type of neighborhood in which your ancestor lived. Is it working class? Middle class? A mix?

If the census is recent enough, looking at the place of birth for the parents of the heads of household can tell you if the family lives in a neighborhood composed primarily of “children of immigrants” from a specific area. If the heads of household are born in the United States, looking at only their place of birth may cause you to overlook this cultural clue.

Even pre-1850 census searches may benefit from this browsing technique. Look at the names next to your ancestor on the census–do they appear to be roughly alphabetical? If so, the census taker may have attempted to alphabetize the names, thus destroying any clues as to neighbors. And scan through the entire township or district. You may find something like what I found in Franklin County, Ohio, in 1830: all the single men listed last.

Seek only the ancestor’s name and you may find him or her (if you are lucky). Seek the neighbors and others on the page and you may learn more than you expected.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this article.

Your Quick Tips, 21 July 2008

Mind the Actual Census Date
You present a very interesting problem that I have faced myself. Often the discrepancy is more than one year of possible birth year. But if it is one or two years, I have narrowed the discrepancy by noting on what day each census record was supposed to have been taken. There is a statutory date and this varies, as you probably know, from one census to another. Some are as of 1 January, some a date in June, etc. If a one year discrepancy seems to be the problem, checking the statutory date could reveal the source of the discrepancy and provide an ante-quam and a post-quam birthday date.

John F. Battick, Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof. of History Emeritus
University of Maine Continue reading