There are many tools that genealogists use to do their research. Some are good, some are mediocre, and some are just not good. Today I will discuss one of my favorite tools.
The census is a great tool. The only caveat with this is that the census only publishes a new census every 12 years. For example, 1940 is the latest census to be published. It is not fully indexed, at this writing, so you have to be creative in how you find someone. The census, depending on the year it was taken, has a lot of valuable information. The first recorded census was 1790. It only lists the name of the head of household, how many free white males and females were in the house (by age groups), and how many slaves. Not a lot of information here. The 1880 census starts telling you how old the person was. This is a great addition. It might help to weed out people with the same name. It tells their marial status, relationship to the head of household, if they were insane (ok, who would say yes to this?), and where they and their parents were born.
Most of the 1890 census were destroyed in a fire. But some information can be found in state census records. The 1900 census adds asking how long the person has been married and how many children were born along with how many are still living. It also asked about the person's occupation and whether the home lived in was owned or rented. So there is some really good information here.
As I stated, this is a good tool. We can find out education, family members, occupation, and nativity from the census records. We can also see neighbors (which might include future spouses) and relatives that live in the same neighborhood.
Yes, the census is a good tool. I just wish they would publish them quicker. I am not sure I can wait another 10 years just to find my mom in her house!
Next time I will review City Directories.