Genealogy Search Tips

6 Tips for Using Census Information

Discover an Ancestor's Place of Birth, Year of Birth, Occupation, Place of Birth of Father and Mother and More

Most of the information is the same for each Census year but some information was only requested for one year or for a few Census years.

See our year by year lists of the Census Information provided in each year between 1870 and 1940.

Birth Date in the US Federal Census

The United States Federal Census for the year 1900 is a good place to look for birth date information because this census also provides the month of birth. The other US Census years provide an age or year of birth but not the month of birth.

Assuming there is no index - If you know the month and year of birth you might then be able to find a birth announcement that was printed in a local newspaper at the time of your ancestor's birth. Just browse through a copy of the newspaper for each day of the month online or with a microfilm reader.

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Try Different Search Queries

In general the US Census is indexed by the words or terms found on the written census. So if there were spelling mistakes on the written census these misspellings will appear on the indexed census. If you can't find a census record for your ancestor try different spellings in your search terms.

You might also try different search terms that are spelled correctly. For example change the search for "Raymond Kane" to a search for "Ray Kane". If Ray Kane was transcribed from the written census then you will probably find your ancestor's written census record with this search term.

Find Ancestor's Occupation in the US Census

If you want to discover the occupation of an ancestor look at the United States Census data. In all the census years between 1870 and 1940 the occupation is listed..

If you would like more detailed information see the World War I and World War II Draft Registration cards. You can also look at an ancestor's application for a Social Security card (Form SS-5). See our discussion of Social Security Applications for additional information.

Find Ancestor's Birth Year

You can find a person's age or year of birth in the US Federal Census in each of these census years - 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940.

See our discussion of the US Federal Census for some additional tips on finding ancestor information.

Find Country of Birth in the US Census

If you are looking for the country of birth of an immigrant to the United States try looking in the US Census. If you can't find the immigrant in the US Census look for his or her children in the US Census.

You can find the father's place of birth and the mother's place of birth in many census years - 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1930.

Find Ancestor's Address

In some cases you might know where an ancestor lived but would like a specific address at some point in time. There are a number of good sources for that information.

Census reports and Directories, like city, school, employment and other organizations, are good places to find addresses. Phone books, year books, marriage applications, draft cards and other military enlistment applications are also good sources.

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