Archive for the ‘Record Groups’ Category

Finding a house in the UK census

There’s little worse than looking for a family in a census and not finding them. Especially when you have other records, and you know exactly where they were living at the time. I recently experienced this again while searching for a family in the 1851 census of England.

James Farmer, his wife Nabby, and at least a few still-unmarried daughters and an infant son should have all been living somewhere in Wigan, Lancashire. Yet the family did not appear in the indexes to these records on FamilySearch, Ancestry.com, or FindMyPast.com. On each site I tried numerous variations, “soundex” settings, wildcards . . . with and without birthdates, with and without surnames, with and without given names. Nothing worked.

I knew that the family was living in Scholes. The birth registration for a son born in 1848 reported their address at that time as Wellington Street.[1] I looked at a map of Wigan and found Wellington Street. I read the enumeration district descriptions on the first page of the census for each nearby district and thought I had found where Wellington Street was likely to have been enumerated. Yet I did a page-by-page search of these districts and still no Farmer family.

Finally, I solved the problem using an online finding aid provided by the National Archives [UK]: the Historical Streets Project.[2]

For each census from 1841 through 1901, the Historical Streets Project provides a listing for each street within each registration district. You will need to know the district in which the street lay in order to browse directly for the appropriate street, though it is also possible to use the wiki search engine to find references to the street name. Each street listing identifies a nearby street, and, more importantly, the NA reference number and folio of that street’s enumeration.

To find the Farmer family, I simply had to go to the street index for the 1851 census, focus on the Wigan registration district, and look for Wellington Street. The Historical Street Project revealed that the street was enumerated on HO 107/2199, folio 252–257. The reference “HO 107/2199″ corresponds to several enumeration districts within Wigan. Folios 252–257 appear in enumeration district 1I in Wigan. Looking through these six pages was quite simple, and the family appeared exactly where they should have![3]

Interestingly enough, the handwriting on the entry is quite clear. I am still not sure why none of the online indexes contained this Farmer family by name.

SOURCES:

[1] England, birth certificate for James Farmer, b. 6 October 1848; citing Volume 21, page 763, entry 372, Wigan Union registration district, County Lancaster; General Register Office, Southport.

[2] “Your Archives:Historical Streets Project,” The National Archives, Your Archives (http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Your_Archives:Historical_Streets_Project : accessed 4 November 2013).

[3] 1851 U. K. Census, Lancashire, Wigan Borough and Township, St. Catherine’s Ecclesiastical District, folio 257 (stamped, verso), page 31, household 105, Wellington St., James Farmer household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 November 2013); citing Class HO107, Piece 2199.

Resources for studying historic laws

When we examine historic records, it is vital that we evaluate them in the context of the world that created them. One of the most important aspects of doing this is to understand the laws under which these records were created.

The Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D. C., provides a list of resources for researching laws. Many of the links in “State Legislatures, State Laws, and State Regulations: Website Links and Telephone Numbers,” of course, refer to modern legislation. Yet there are a number of sites that have digitized either images or transcriptions of historic laws as well.

For example, the Online State Resources for Genealogists ebook contains links to the following sources for historic law books, among numerous others:

You can also discover many historic state statute books that have been digitized by Google Books. The easiest way to find these is to search for “laws [state name]” or “statutes [state name]” directly in Google Books, not from the Google main page. The results will vary depending on what has been digitized for the specific state. Occasionally, once you have discovered the naming pattern for historic statute books in the state–or even the identity of the state printer–during the time period you are seeking, you can find better results by searching specifically by name.

A search for “statutes of Virginia,” for example, produces results for Hening’s Statutes at Large for 1819, 1820, and 1836, and a 1971 supplement, all on the first page of results. Clicking on the name of William Waller Hening in these results produces several books of legal commentary that he wrote, a few volumes of court decisions, and an additional volume of the Statutes at Large from 1823.

Another site to search for digitized books is Internet Archive. Through partnerships with numerous libraries and universities, the collection of books on this site almost rivals Google’s. Recommendations for searching are the same as listed above, with similar results.

For example, a search for “laws of Minnesota” on this site produces 98 results, including volumes of session laws from 1891 and 1915, and general laws from 1866, 1878, and 1889.

To search for federal laws, the Library of Congress has digitized the published U. S. Statutes at Large, as well as various published Congressional debates and proceedings, from 1775 through 1875. These include full-text search capability, on “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U. S. Congressional Documents and Debates,” part of its American Memory digital collection.

Understanding the laws that regulated our ancestors’ worlds is an integral part of researching our ancestors within these worlds. Once we have located the relevant laws, we might discover that the intestate succession laws describing how property was to be distributed bring new meaning to the probate records we have located. We might discover that the tax laws defined the values in the tax lists, when specific property was not described. We might discover that the language at the end of a deed that we dismissed as boilerplate actually had a very well-defined legal meaning, that is necessary to fully understand the record.

There are really no limits to what we might discover once we understand the laws of the past.

For more evidence of this, I recommend reading Judy G. Russell’s blog, The Legal Genealogist. She frequently discusses this very phenomenon.

If you would like to cite this post:

Michael Hait, CG, “Resources for studying historic laws,”Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 28 January 2013 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

U. S. Census Pathfinder now available

I recently completed a free PDF e-book: U. S. Census Pathfinder.

This e-book compiles available information from government and independent websites concerning the U. S. federal census. These resources will allow genealogists and historians to use the federal census to its greatest potential. Among the resources are

  • authorizing acts of Congress;
  • enumeration instructions;
  • original (blank) census forms;
  • information about the original manuscript schedules held at the National Archives in Washington;
  • links and descriptive pamphlets (DPs) of the microfilm editions;
  • links to free and pay sources for digital images;
  • statistical compendia; and
  • explanatory or background articles.

If you use the federal census in your research—and what American researcher doesn’t?—please use this to find the background material you need. You can find the e-book in the “Free Resources” section of my business website, or by following the link above.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think. What have I missed?

Online State Resources for Genealogy e-book version 2.0 released!

I am pleased to announce that my popular ebook Online State Resources for Genealogy has been updated, and version 2.0 is now available for purchase.

The Online State Resources for Genealogy ebook was originally released in January 2011, containing links to online record indexes and images. Unlike many resource guides the focus of this ebook is on those websites that contain record indexes and images but are not genealogy-based sites. You will not find references to Ancestry.comFamilySearchU. S. GenWeb, or Find-A-Grave.

Instead you will find links to resources found on the websites of state and county archives, county clerks, historical societies and museums, university libraries, public libraries, and others. These sites contain many records that have never been previously digitized or made available online. Many of these have never even been microfilmed.

The first edition contained 201 repositories across the United States, featuring over 2,000 links. Version 2.0 examines 428 repositories, featuring almost 6,000 links! In addition to the new links, all of the previously-listed links have been verified and updated when necessary.

Even more exciting is the introduction of an EPUB edition of the book, for use with your favorite e-reader. This was a frequent suggestion, and I am pleased to be able to offer this new edition.

To purchase the standard (PDF) edition of Online State Resources for Genealogy, version 2.0, click here.

To purchase the e-reader (EPUB) edition of Online State Resources for Genealogy, version 2.0, click here.

If you previously purchased the first edition, please read my post, “Important notice for purchasers of Online State Resources for Genealogy.” If you have already responded as requested in that post, there is no need to do so again.

Citing the 1940 U. S. Census digital images

You might notice that I have been relatively quiet about the 1940 census release. Nearly every aspect of accessing and indexing the 1940 U. S. Census–released yesterday, 2 April 2012–has been covered extensively.

Now that the images are available, no doubt genealogists around the United States (and probably at least a few other countries) are diving in and looking for their families. So what do you cite once you have found them?

Because images are not yet completely available for all states through every host (and the NARA host site is running particularly slow this morning), I will use the example of a family in Delaware, the only state currently (as of the time of this writing) available on both FamilySearch and Ancestry.com. For this example I am using the image on FamilySearch, but I will address citing the same record on other sites.

I am not personally researching this family, for either myself or any of my clients. I picked it at random from a family then living in the town where I now live. I did also pick this particular household because it lands on line 29, so the supplementary questions also apply.

First, here is the full citation (in Reference Note format):

1940 U. S. Census, Kent County, Delaware, population schedule, 6th Representative District, Harrington City, enumeration district (ED) 1-23, page 247 (stamped), sheet 4A, dwelling 88, G. B. Colman household; digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 2 April 2012).

Citing a federal census begins with the most general element and moves toward the most specific. In the above example, we start with the record itself (the 1940 Census). The census is organized by county and state, so this is the next element. Then we have the specific schedule we are using. These elements at the beginning are those used by the National Archives in their organization of the census record, so they are key in identifying the specific record.

At the top of each census page are two fields labeled “Township or other division of county” and “Incorporated place.” These divisions must also be noted within the citation. Then we add the enumeration district (ED) number.

Each “sheet” is identified, with either “A” or “B,” but the “A” pages also contain a stamped page number. Both of these should be included where applicable. On the “B” pages, no stamped page number appears, so none need be included in the citation.

One difference between this 1940 census and previous enumerations back to 1850 is that–rather than including two identifying “dwelling” and “family” numbers–this enumeration only identifies households by a single “household” (or “dwelling”) number. We then identify the head of household (or a specific individual within the household) that we are examining.

Note that we have gone from the most general element to the most specific–from the year down to the specific individual.

Next we must include information on the repository holding the records. We separate this section with a semicolon, to show that it is a separate clause.

We first identify that we are using digital images. The 1940 Census, to my knowledge, is not being microfilmed but is only available via the digital images on various websites.

In this case I used the images on FamilySearch, so my citation reflects this fact. We must include the author of the website, the title of the website, the URL, and the date we accessed the record. The same format would be used whether we used the images on FamilySearchAncestry.comMyHeritageArchives.com, or the National Archives and Records Administration’s official 1940 Census site.

In many of these cases, the title of the website is the same as the name of the corporate entity that publishes the website. In these cases, there is no need to repeat the name. For example, we do not have to cite the Ancestry.com site as

Ancestry.com, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com [...]

but we do have to cite the NARA site as

National Archives and Records Administration, 1940 Census (http://1940census.archives.gov [...]

I hope that everyone is having a great time looking for their family members in 1940!

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “Citing the 1940 U. S. Census digital images,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 3 April 2012 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]). [Please also feel free to include a hyperlink to the specific article if you are citing this post in an online forum.]

Now available – “Library Edition” of “Online State Resources for Genealogy”

Many public libraries now offer e-books to their patrons. For self-published authors such as myself, this causes a bit of a dilemma. Do we forego the library market altogether, or risk the loss of income from library patrons who copy the book file to their own computers? (This is, of course, a violation of copyright.)

Adobe, who really helped to usher in the e-book revolution with the development of its Portable Document Format (PDF), also offers a solution for Digital Rights Management. These files are read with the free Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software rather than the standard Adobe Reader. Adobe Digital Editions can be downloaded from http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/. According to the Adobe website, Digital Editions “works in conjunction with Adobe Digital Experience Protection Technology (ADEPT), a hosted service that provides publishers with copy protection in both retail and library environments.”

Online State Resources for Genealogy (currently #36 on Lulu.com’s all-time best-selling e-books) has now been converted to a “Library Edition.” This new edition utilizes the Adobe PDF format with Digital Editions in order to provide a version of this e-book that can be safely offered by libraries to their patrons.

For more details, including purchasing information, visit http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/online-state-resources-for-genealogy—library-edition/18777978.

Researching Maryland land records online at no cost

Locating digitized records available online is one of my greatest interests. The compilation and publication of my ebook Online State Resources for Genealogy earlier this year was the product of this interest, containing over 300 pages of links to over 1500 record images and indexes held on non-genealogy websites. The updated edition of this ebook should be completed early next year, and all registered purchasers of the first edition will receive a free download of the second, updated edition. The new edition will contain several hundred new sites that did not appear in the first edition, as well as many resources newly available from the sites that did appear.

Dee, author of the Free Genealogy Resources and Ancestrally Challenged blogs, shares my passion for online genealogy resources.

She recently solicited her readers for guest post authors, and I volunteered. My guest post, entitled, “Guest Post by Michael Hait: Researching Maryland land records online at no cost,” appeared in the 19 December edition of Free Genealogy Resources.

Enjoy!

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