history-genealogy site

This is a site where I will discuss my family genealogy research and related history. When a blog deals with a particular family group, I will try to include it in the title so uninterested people can skip it without skimming it. It is my hope to get feedback on research methods, family members and historical context from other historians, genealogists, and researchers. (c) Barbara L. de Mare 2006, 2007

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Location: Englewood, New Jersey, United States

Friday, May 25, 2007

Re-Reading Census Returns

Last week I attended the National Genealogical Society Meeting in Richmond, Virginia. In one of the lectures, the lecturer tried to stress the importance of going back and re-reading each and every census we had in our files. Everyone either laughed or groaned, at which point the lecturer announced that she knew it was a big job but that it was worth it. I was one of the laughers. However, I started re-reading each census return for each person as I worked on his or her file. I have probably done about a hald dozen since Monday, and in each I have fond something new. I had studied them all carefully in the first place, but as time goes on so that more is learned about the family, more is learned about genealogical research in general, and more questions arise with each new piece of information received on a family group, there are things which seemed totally unimportant on the first reading, but several years later constitute an important clue to finding that loose end needed to tir up the famly with no hanging questions. It is absolutely amazing to me how many little things I missed which are now important. The census returns do much more for you than just give the members of the family and place if residence on a certain date. All those seemingly unimportant questions asked by the census enumerator take on new meaning when more is learned about the family group as a whole. Try reading a couple of ones that you had copied a couple of years ago, and since learned much more about the family dynamics, and see what pops out at you that is important now but wasn't before. The other point stressed by the census lecturer is to check the neighbors. This has been emphasized at every lecture I have ever attended on census records. Neighbors also have to be re-checked after more research is done. Last night I was reading a census which I had printed onlya few months ago. I was reading the copy of the image, not my transcription, and was immediately struck by a person next door to my family with the surname Deyo. When I originally read this census I had no idea that that the maiden name of the mother of the girl whose line I was following was Deyo. Tonight I will have to see where this clue takes me.

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