Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Census Dates of Record

Thanks to the Region Roots blog from Lake County (Indiana) Public Library for posting this handy reference guide to the official census dates of record for the fifteen US censuses currently publicly available (1790-1930). For a quick handy bookmark you can't beat it.

These dates are more important than the date when the census taker showed up at your ancestor's household. If the census taker and the informant understood the census instructions and followed them, each census entry should reflect the household composition as of the date of record, not the date the census taker was actually there.

Of course not everyone followed the instructions, but in figuring out what a record means, the first step (ideally) is to know the rules under which it was created. If you want to know all about the rules involved in the creation of what may be the #1 most used genealogy source, one useful reference is the Census Bureau's 2002 publication Measuring America, available for free on line in Part 1 and Part 2 in PDF format.

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