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Census Search Tips
- Census records can be rich with details about your ancestor. Be sure to look at each and every question that was asked and use the answers to locate more records. For example, the U.S. federal censuses for the years 1900-1930 include a date of immigration for immigrants. Use that date to narrow your search for your ancestor's passenger arrival record in the Immigration Collection.
- Pinpoint your ancestor's location from the census on a map, and then look for churches, cemeteries, and other places where your ancestor may have left records.
- Be sure to locate your ancestor's adult siblings in census records. It was common for extended family to live in the same household or near other family members. You may find a parent, grandparent, or other family members living either with them or nearby.
- If you're having a difficult time locating your ancestor, try searching using only given names and other details like birth year, residence, family members, place of birth, etc.
- Occasionally, census takers only recorded initials in place of the given name. Using only a first initial will bring up these records.
- Census takers didn't always have the best penmanship, so if you're having a hard time locating your ancestor, write out the name and try replacing some of the letters with letters that look similar (e.g., Lower case a's and o's can look surprisingly similar.)
U.S. Federal Census Search Page