Thursday, January 31, 2019

Of Census Predictors and Custom Facts


We’ve all been there. Hunched over our computer keyboard in our jammies, our wretched fingers clutching the mouse, the clock striking two in the morning, our bleary-eyed gaze perusing the census form. “Where are they?” we mutter. We know that our ancestors were alive in that census period, but they elude our grasp. My personal quest is to find my FLAHERTY family in 1880. I have located a few siblings in Michigan of all places (on a minus-60 wind chill day in the upper Midwest like today, I wonder why anyone would live in Michigan), but my great-grandma Sarah and great-great-grandma Margaret are still hiding from me. How can a huge Irish Catholic family vanish into thin air?

So, what’s a genealogist to do? I’ll tell you: Provide a road map for researchers who will follow you that notes where people are living now and in the last half of the 20th Century. Enter my own invention: The Census Predictor! I haven’t seen any other genealogists doing this before, but I think it’s a good practice. 

Chances are you know where your relations were living in later census years that have not been released yet, thanks to the 72-Year Rule. Leave that information for other researchers in years to come. Wouldn’t you have loved to find a listing of who-was-where to guide you in your census searches? You, yes, you, can be the foresighted relative future genealogists praise for leaving a trail of breadcrumbs (Ginsu knives sold separately). All it takes is a simple table in a Word document—even a handwritten one works. Feel free to tweak it to suit your needs. And if you think of anything that would be good to include that I left out, be sure to let me know!

Year
State
County
City
Address
Who Was Living There? + Notes
2020





2010





2000





1990





1980





1970





1960





1950






In one of my next posts, I will share my own Census Predictor so you can see how it works in practice. Oh, and one more thing that I like to do. In my genealogy software program, I create a Custom Fact called Census Predictor and place each census year as above in the facts for each person. I even did this on my Ancestry.com public tree as a favor to other researchers. My personal philosophy? I believe that facts regarding our genealogy research belong to our families and to the world and not to us. Be generous and share your pearls. Also, be sure to keep reading this blog so that you will see just how valuable a Census Predictor is when it comes to finding my family in the 1950 census—they could be anywhere! Imagine searching for them a hundred years from now without the information that a Census Predictor can provide.

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Coming Up Next: The Census Extractor

Coming Up Soon: The 1970-2020 Census Predictor for Christine Jane UNDERWOOD


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