AfriGeneas Saturday Night Chat Log 19 Aug 2000

Topic: Census and Soundex

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The topic is: African Ancestry

[kiatte] QUIETT...LA, MO, OH,NC

[kiatte] Hi Damita

[otey50] hello green

[dldgreen] Hello All!

[dldgreen] Welcome to tonight's Afrigeneas chart session.

[dldgreen] Tonight's topic is the Census and the SOundex.

[dldgreen] We will discuss the how both can aid our genealogical search.

[dldgreen] I will present for approximately 15 minutes or so....

[dldgreen] and then open the floor to questions.

[dldgreen] Throughout the session, we will be in protocol.

[dldgreen] When the floor is opened for questions, you may signal by entering

- a question mark (?) if youhave a question

[dldgreen] or an exclamation point (!) if you have a comment.


you logged off

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The topic is: African Ancestry

[dldgreen] I got the boot for a minute there!

[dldgreen] Anyway, I will try to address your questions and comments in the

- order raised

[dldgreen] by maintaining a queue.

[dldgreen] I'll post the queue periodically, so you  can get an idea of where

- you stand.

[dldgreen] Any questions before we get started?

[dldgreen] All righty then....

[dldgreen] Every year since 1790, the US Federal government has counted the

- US population

[dldgreen] by means of a census, taken every 10 years.

[dldgreen] Everyone by now should have had the opportunity to experience this

- personally

[dldgreen] this year as a participant in the 2000 census enumeration.

[dldgreen] The census contains information that is most helpful in locating

- our ancestors in years past

[dldgreen] and is one of the most often used records by genealogists.

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[dldgreen] The most recent year available for public viewing is tje 1920

- census.

[dldgreen] [tje  = the]

[dldgreen] That is because the information contained in the census records

- are protected by the privacy act

[dldgreen] and is not to be released until 72 years after the official date

- of the census.

[ywanda] Hello everyone.  Has the exact date been set for the 1930 release?

[dldgreen] So the 1930 census will not be available until 2002.  For

- information on the exact date

[ywanda] Is it worth it to buy the census on CD?

[dldgreen] you may go to the National Archives website at


[dldgreen] This years census will therefore not be available until 2072!

[dldgreen] One of the most frustrating parts of dealing with the census is

- determining how to find

[dldgreen] your ancestors.

[dldgreen] The censu records are organized by state, and then county within

- each state.

[dldgreen] Within the county, it will be divided by supervisor's district &

- enumeration district.

[dldgreen] An city, town or township may span multiple enumeration or

- supervisor's districts.

[dldgreen] People are listed according to household, and are "indexed" (where

- available) according to head of household.

[dldgreen] So to find your ancestor, you must know what county and state the

- person lived in, and in whose

[dldgreen] household to find the person.

[ywanda] I found if you have the time (and patience) to go through the

- microfiche, it may pay off.  Taking a lot of copies to record your info is

- helpful.

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[dldgreen] The census is not alphabetized.  Here's where the soundex comes in

- handy and can save you time.

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[dldgreen] The soundex is a tool that indexes the census' surnames according

- to the way the names sound.

[dldgreen] And  also by similar spellings.

[dldgreen] So the names LONG and LANG will have the same  soundex code.

[dldgreen] There is a method to figuring out the soundex code for your

- surname.  At all National Archive locations

[dldgreen] they have a pamphlet that will show you how to go about figuring a

- surnames soundex code

[ywanda] The soundex was helptul in looking for the correct microfiche

- reels.  I'm really glad the soundex works across all the indices.

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[dldgreen] I find it easier to use one of the many websites or software

- packages to determine the codes.

[dldgreen] One such site is


[dldgreen] There are quite a few, some will even convert soundex codes to

- surnames, if you ever have a need.

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[dldgreen] Using the soundex code, you then locate the microfilm that

- contains that code for your state(s).

[dldgreen] Within each soundex coded microfilm, the codes are then arranged

- by code and first name.

[dldgreen] So if your soundex code is M520, you will see all the surnames

- that align with that soundex code, listed alphabetically

[dldgreen] by first name of the head of household.

[dldgreen] So all the Alan LOGANs will be listed together,  for example.

[dldgreen] Then perhaps followed by the Albert LOGANs.

[dldgreen] When you find your person or family, it will list the persons in

- the household, their relationship to the head

[dldgreen] of the household, their ages, the county, census page and perhaps

- even the line # of the censu

[dldgreen] [censu = census]

[dldgreen] where you can locate the family.

[dldgreen] This saves you the trouble of searching line by line for your

- people.

[dldgreen] The soundex is available for 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920.

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[dldgreen] Sadly, it is not available for other years.  However most earlier

- years have been privately indexed

[dldgreen] by companies and are available as books for sale.

[dldgreen] What types of info does the census hold?

[dldgreen] Name, relationship to head of household, age, birthplace,

- occupation, # years married, # children born/living,

[dldgreen] whether the persons own or rent their farm/home, and birthplace of

- parents.

[dldgreen] Not all years contain all this information.  The NARA website

- previously provided will

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[dldgreen] list the information contained in each census year.

[ALGee] < Good Evening >

[dldgreen] The floor is opened for questions and comments.  Please remember

- that we are in protocol.

[E.T.] !

[dldgreen] Yes ET?

[ywanda] What do you do if you can't find a relative in a particular county?

-  Is an index helpful then?

[E.T.] My experience in explaining the census to newer users is...

[E.T.] that it is done as a head count (as you mentioned) and each census

- year is different...

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[E.T.] so, getting help from the librarians at the NARA's is a must if you

- don't understand the...

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[otey50] !

[E.T.] process. It can be truly confusing. (you've done a good job at

- explaining!)

[ALGee] < hello FoFam  we are in protocol and our host has the floor open

- for ?'s>

[E.T.] End

[dldgreen] Thank you ET, you raise an excellent point.  The info contained in

- each year does differ


[dldgreen] somewhat.  FOr example, 1900 contains birth year and month, while

- the others do not.

[dldgreen] 1910 and 1900 contain # years married as well as # children

- born/living.

[dldgreen] Certainly, NARA staff and volunteers are instrumental in assisting

- newcomers to this tremendous resource!

[E.T.] !

[ywanda] Do you know what determined what info would be included in a census

- count for that year?

[dldgreen] It is essential that you  know what state your people were located

- in and have an idea of the persons

[ALGee] < queue ywanda, Otey, ET, ywanda  >

[dldgreen] who should be in the household so that you can recognize families

- together.

[dldgreen] This is particularly useful if you are looking for someone as a

- child or in any situation where the

[dldgreen] person in question mayn't be the head of household.

[dldgreen] You had another comment ET?

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[dldgreen] [Wanda, you are next.  We use ? or ! to signal a question or

- comment, and keep a queue going.]

[E.T.] Yes... ywanda asked about what info is contained...

[E.T.] in each census. That's determined by what the needs of the government

- are at that...

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[E.T.] time. And also... I filled out my census this year, on-line. It asks

- next to no relavant...

y, ET, ywanda

-  >< queue Otey, ET, ywanda  >

[otey50] I've heard that the 1890 census would have been the first to

- disclose racial mixture. Is it true?

[E.T.] and others who may be at the residence at the time of the

- enumeration.


[E.T.] End

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[dldgreen] Yes, ET, *anyone* living in the household was listed - neices,

- nephews, boarders, employees, etc.

[dldgreen] Ywanda, your question?

[ywanda] I think ET answered it.  Thanks.

[dldgreen] Great!

[dldgreen] Otey, your next.  Your question or comment, please...

[otey50] sorry; I misread the queue. Is it true that the 1890 censues would

- have disclosed racial mixture?

[dldgreen] I'm not aware of that, but it certtainly would have made for

- interesting reading!  Perhaps a NARA staff member...

[dldgreen] may answer that question for you.  They have an email address for

- such questions at their website.

[otey50] thanks.

[otey50] end.

[dldgreen] ET, you're up again...Your question or comment? [Ywanda is up

- next..]

[E.T.] I pass

[dldgreen] Ywanda?

[ywanda] I found it was helpful to know some oral history along with looking

- at the census.

[E.T.] !

[dldgreen] Absolutely!  Oral history can help you pick out things like

- neighbors who are really relatives!

[ywanda] I don't know where my family name originated but based on the 1880

- census my grandfather would appear to have had his stepfather's name.

[ALGee] < queue is empty>

[dldgreen] Ywanda that is quite possible.  There are cases where ahousehold

- will have a few different surnames..

[dldgreen] in one census year, and then in the next one, those same people

- will have the same surname.

[dldgreen] A remarriage can be an example of such.

[dldgreen] ET, your comment?

[E.T.] Okay...

[E.T.] The Soundex is critical because it shows you an index card...

[E.T.] that tells you who the person you are researching is enumerated

- with...

[E.T.] and from there, once you go to the actual census...

[E.T.] you may find that the person is NOT enumerated with their family...

[E.T.] and this is really the ONLY way to trace a person who has proven..

[E.T.] to be 'elusive'...

[E.T.] And for the census years that do not have Soundex indexing...

[E.T.] as dld has stated, there are...

[E.T.] different organizations and societies that have independantly

- indexed...

[E.T.] certain census years. Usually because they have a vested interest in

- that census year.

[E.T.] end

[otey50] !

[dldgreen] More great points.  Thanks ET.

[dldgreen] I've had such a great time this evening, (hope you did too), that

- I

[dldgreen] I've lost track of the time.

[ALGee] < Niters all  Great session >

[dldgreen] Thanks, everyone for coming out and sharing your expperiences!

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[dldgreen] [expperiences = experiences]

[dldgreen] Good night, all!

[E.T.] 'bye

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AfriGeneas ~ African Ancestory Genealogy