Using the US Census, Part II Locator Indexes (continued)

10.  More than 85,000,000 British surnames (mostly from parish registers) International Genealogical Index (IGI).   Go to Previous Site. Click on Advances Search to access only the IGI.  Largest single database of British given names and surnames.  Especially valuable for spelling variants and origins of rare and unusual names.  FamilySearch has an extensive re-indexing program for all US Census records to correct the readings of the names.  As these new indexes are posted online, finding ancestors in the censuses will be much easier.  Indexed names are being added to the databases at the rate of about 100 million per month.  [FamilySearch is also getting ready to launch their new online presence–so the location of the IGI may change when the change is made.]

11.  Online US Census Indexes and Images, 1790-1940.    Available by subscription at home and through a special free Institution Edition at local public libraries and genealogy collections.  Ancestry’s new search format that matches other entries in their databases with the ancestor of interest is a new research finding tool you will love!  Use with Heritage Quest census indexes and images 1790-1820, 1860-1920 (1830-1850 includes images only) at your local public library.  Each one has a different format which complements the other.  And the use of two or more separate indexes compensates for the error challenge in reading the names.  Ancestry’s combined databases provide access to over 3 billion names.

12.  Michigan Censuses 1710-1830 under the French, the British,  and the Americans.  Donna Valley Russell.  Detroit:  Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, 1982.  Watch especially for Irish names that became French in Canada before coming to the United States. 

13.  9,000+ names, 1776-1778 Censuses of Maryland.  Chesterfield MO:  B. Stirling Carothers, n.d.  The 1776 census gives names and ages of each person, many family groups with father, mother,and all the kids in age order.  This census was preliminary to the Oaths of Fidelity.  In 1777, every free male over the age of 18 was to take an oath of allegiance and fidelity to the cause of freedom and to the state of Maryland.  Those who did not take the oaths, were sought for the 1778 census where they could affirm their support of the war effort against Britain–since the first attempts did not take into account the large population of conscientious objectors living in Maryalnd at that time.  Carothers also published the Oaths of Fidelity during the American Revolution in 2 volumes.  These volumes are available in most genealogy libraries in book form.  The originals are in the Hall of Records, Annapolis MD.

14.  70,000,000+ namesAIS Index.  Bountiful UT:  Accelerated Indexing Systems.  Nationwide, US digital index for each census year–issued as computer printouts on microfiche and in print state by state.  The original microfiche edition is the most valuable because it is a nationwide index in one alphabet for each census year.  Later conversion to internet access divided the database into regional segments which does not allow you to see the full distribution of surnames, where they are located, what migration patterns they followed, and where unusual surnames are clustered.  This is the only large census database that includes substitutes (mostly tax rolls) for missing schedules.  Especially valuable for New Jersey where the first statewide census is 1830.  Available at the Family History Library, selected Family History Centers, and some other libraries.

15.  Brenna E. Lorenz, “Origins of Unusual Given Names from the Southern United States,” Names 37 (1989): 201-30. Valuable article because it verifies names as real, that you may have concluded are mistakes.

There are numerous other indexed names online and offline that you can use to verify spellings, identify names peculiar to specific ethnic or national backgrounds, determine where these names are clustered, and pre-plan searches in digital indexes–where you have to tell the computer search engines exactly what you want to look at.  With a printed book, you can scan all the names beginning with the same letters.  Or, read the whole alphabetical arrangement.  Online indexes function differently and the more prepared you are to find unusual spellings for your surnames, the more likely you will be to find your ancestors.

Remember you are second-guessing not only the indexer, but the original scribe who wrote the name in the first place.  What appears as an indexing error, could very well be the spelling provided in the original record.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle.

PS  Have you discovered that there is no easy button when searching for ancestors.  Research requires due diligence.  And that is why it attracts so many followers and why you stay with it once you start–research is a continuing world with ancestors just waiting to be found.

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