Census Checklist

If you’re a fan of Ancestry.com on FaceBook, you may have seen the postings about creating a census checklist to track your ancestors through the census records. Since people have been sharing theirs, I thought I’d share, too.

I don’t know if you’ve found this to be true in your family (bet you have!), but it seems my ancestors and their brothers used the same given names for their children over and over and… This can create problems when you’re looking in source records—how to do know which John or George or Adam the record pertains to? It’s particularly confusing in early census records—pre 1850—when you only have the location, head of household, and an age range with which to work. Tax records were giving me headaches, too.

So, I used a spreadsheet to make a chart that shows me what years to expect to see records for a given individual.

Tracking record availability by year and age
Tracking expected record availability by year and age

As you can see, this chart includes more than just the years for US Federal census enumerations. I’ve also included years in which I’ve found records for tax assessments and returns across the top. Names for the people I’m researching appear down the left side. It’s a two-generation chart, so the name in bold is the father of those indented beneath.

I included the year in which each individual turned 18. I’ve never been sure when they became eligible to be taxed—at age 18 or 21—so, to be safe, I’ve used 18. If I know the year that an individual married, I will put an “M” in that cell. This helps because sometimes, unlike today, a person won’t be found as a head of household if they haven’t married and set-up their own household. Instead, they would have continued on as a member of their parents’ or other relatives’ household, or if they got work with another family, as part of that household. I also try to include the year each person died, with a “D”, so that I know when I can expect them to stop appearing in the records. The dark blue shows the years I expected to locate records for the fathers, starting at eighteen. The bright blue shows the childhood of the sons with the years after the age of 18 in a lighter, grey-purple.

Adam and Martin Hocker both lived in Derry Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. They both had sons they named John, George and Jacob. Frederick Hacker’s son, George (1808), also lived in the same area in Dauphin County for a time, creating more confusion. Additionally, there were an Adam and John Hocker in Derry Township that I’m sure are members of the family, but I haven’t been able to tie them in, yet. This document—plus marriage information—helped me to straighten out some of my confusion regarding tax and census records and attribute them to the appropriate person.

What tools have you found or created to help you during your family research?

What do you think?


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, "Census Checklist," A Pennsylvania Dutch Genealogy, the genealogy & family research site of Kris Hocker, modified 13 Feb 2010 (http://www.krishocker.com/census-checklist/ : accessed 23 Jan 2018).

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1 Comment

  1. Jeannette Tabar

    I have found the Family History Center has a ‘1790-1840 Census Records’ sheet.
    I is a hard copy not computer.. I could scan it to you if you would like..
    This has been helpful to me as, there are 3 William Stitt in my family. Very confusing, and one calles himself by his middle name.
    I am trying to gert into the DAR. William Edward Stitt Sr and William Edward Stitt Jr were both in the Rev. War. Llived and Died in PA. Jr. born and died in Gilpin, Armstrong, PA. Truby Farm Cemetery is where Jr and wife Elizabeth are to be buried. I have not been able to find any proof as of yet, I am still looking. I find this all very interesting. Like your website.. Jeannette

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