"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press & Thorndale Champion
15 July 2004

Census Tools

We're all looking, or should be looking at census records! You never know what you'll find, especially with all of the new census tools.

Of course there is still the old fashion microfilm route at the library or the high-tech census databases at Ancestry.com, HeritageQuest.com or USGenWeb Census Project.

One researcher I know is of the opinion that you only need to find the person once in the census in the county and state where you know they lived "their entire life" and there is no need to do more. Wrong! You should look for your ancestor in each and every census from the time they were born until they died or 1930, the last census released for the public.

Why? Each census asks for different information and provides important clues to assist with your research. P

You can begin learning about census for your states or counties of interest at the U.S. Census Bureau's Quick Fact website at: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/. One of the hiding secrets on this website is the statistical information for your counties. To get to this information click on: 1) State, 2) Browse Data Sets (highlighted in yellow on right-hand side of screen), Historical Population Counts (just above a blue bar Business QuickLinks).

For Texas, the "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990" chart shows that in 1900 Milam Co., TX had a population of 39,666 and that by 1990 the population had dropped to 22,946. Wow, what a drop in population of 16,720 in just under one century. This change in population clearly shows the trend of moving from a rural lifestyle to the urban cities.

This is a great website provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and there is much more to explore and use. There is also information available for each county individually.

There are several books that go in depth about census research. One that I recommend is "Your Guide to the Federal Census: For Genealogists, Researchers, and Family Historians" by Kathleen Hinckley, [paperback, published 2002, 275 pages, under $20, ISBN 1558705880]. This is a wonderful reference book for any genealogist to have in their home library. Most researchers working on American families depend on the federal census as a basic tool in constructing their family groups. Knowing where to find the records, what information they can give you, and how to use them to your best advantage are all covered in this wonderful book.

On-line databases are getting more and more census images and you can do your research at home with a sodawater.

I use both Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.com census databases. Yes, you have to pay a fee to use the Ancestry.com databases but I find the $200 per year to have full access to the census, newspapers, U.S. Records Collection and U.S. Immigration Collection is well worth the cost and if I get a wild hair idea at 3 am I can go to the computer and look in my pjs.

The HeritageQuest.com database is available free to Texas residents through the TexShare Databases between the Texas State Libraries and your local library. For information on the TexShare ask your local librarian or visit on-line: http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/texshare/pl/.

Currently, HeritageQuest has on-line census images and indexes for: 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1860, 1870, 1890 (only those surviving the fire), 1900, 1910, 1920 & 1930. They have yet to put the 1830, 1840, 1850, 1880 census on-line.

While Ancestry.com has on-line census images for all years, they have indexes for all of the years except the 1900 census.

The USGenWeb Census Project is a volunteer project to transcribe all of the censuses and is on-line at: http://www.us-census.org/. To get started, click on the line "State / County / Year" and then click on the state you want to view. They also have a search engine that allows you to search all of the databases or only by state.

I hope you are now inspired to spend your summer indoors, in the cool of the air conditioning searching on-line or at your local library for census records! Let me know how your research is going!


In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 29 Sept 2004 and was last revised on __________

Copyright 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604