News from around the web.
Go to Source
Since 1790, the United States census has supplied our government with important information about changing population trends every decade. Serving as an official population count, the information collected by the census directly affects our House of Representatives, Electoral College and federal funding. While the census was meant to periodically track the overall state of our country, it has also become an amazing source of information for genealogists.
It was just a few months ago genealogy lovers throughout the United States patiently awaited the release of the 1940 census. Due to a strict 72-year privacy restriction, it was the first census to be released in 10 years. One of the most fascinating parts about the 1940 data was that most of us know, were raised, or were influenced by people who were alive when it was taken. Whether it was your parents, grandparents or great grandparents, the 1940 census gave us a window into our family’s daily life following the Great Depression and before World War II. To celebrate its release, Ancestry.com made the 1940 census free to search on their databases through the end of 2013 – and due to the overwhelming popularity, Ancestry.com has decided to take things a step further.
This holiday weekend, you can search all available census records for free on Ancestry.com through September 3, 2012. With a total of 713 million U.S. census records at your fingertips the amount of information you could learn about your family may be endless. By entering any known information about your ancestors – such as full name, birth year and location, location they lived in, other family members, gender, race or nationality – you can trace your family from 1940 to as far back as 1790.
Out of all the records genealogists use to trace their families the census has always been my favorite resource for information. Unlike other records that will give you little more than names and dates, it offers a better look into your family’s life and living situation. It also provides the ability to check in on our ancestor’s progress, following their lives as children to adults with families of their own.
Although the amount of information available changes from census to census, there is a lot that can be learned about your ancestors. The most common pieces of information are the address of their residence at the time the census was taken and the name of the head of household. You may also find a list of other family members living in the home along with their age, place of birth, marriage status, education, occupation, how much they earned and military service. Some censuses even cover immigration and citizenship details.
With the help of census records I have been able to bust through many roadblocks in my research. There have been many times where I thought the maiden name of one of my female ancestors was lost forever, until I found a census record that listed her elderly parents living with her and her husband. They have also helped me discover ancestors who were raised in their grandparents’ homes, which led me to research why they were no longer in the care of their parents.
The United States census gives us the opportunity to meet ancestors we never knew personally and to better understand the world that shaped the older generations we were raised and influenced by. Whether you have been researching your family for years, or you are just getting started, this weekend you have an amazing opportunity to fill in the missing pieces of your family tree. Find your family now.
By Kris Williams