How to

Research tip: save time by using the census to find vital records dates

I’ve been reading census enumerations . Why? Because it’s actually faster than turning page after page in the vital records books…

A client doesn’t know when their ancestor died. We could have started with the marriage of the ancestor’s daughter, the last known date he was living – but if we’d done that, we would have had to go through 31 years worth of vital records. Instead, we’d followed the family through the census in order to see how and when the ancestor’s family changed, looking at one enumeration every five years or so. We noticed that the husband was alive in 1855 and his wife was listed as a widow in 1861. Since the census was actually taken every three years, a review of the 1858 census revealed that the husband was already deceased. Instead of checking thirty one years, we checked three.

Don’t forget the census! It may be slow going, but it allows you to skip years without missing anything!


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