Use More than One Source to Search the U.S. Census: Tuesday’s Tip

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Use More than One Source to Search the U.S. Census: Tuesday’s Tip

Now that federal census images are available online from multiple providers, it’s always a good idea to search each of them for your missing ancestors.

Some of the reasons why this is a good idea:

• Indexers may interpret handwritten names differently, leading to elusive family members

• Image quality may improve from another provider

• Some years of the decennial census may be completely indexed at one provider and not at another

Give the census from an alternative source a try – you may be pleasantly surprised.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”


  1. Lisa Wallen Logsdon 5 July 2011 at 8:04 AM

    Excellent tip! There are a few in my tree that have continually eluded me for certain years. I know they are SOMEWHERE because they show up in a later census. I almost always used Ancestry so I’ll give the others a try and see what happens! Thanks!

  2. Heather Kuhn Roelker 5 July 2011 at 9:00 AM

    This is definitely a good tip. I have found several ancestors I couldn’t find previously while searching the census records. Their transcription differences from Ancestry were just enough for a wild card search to find my ancestors.

  3. Nancy 5 July 2011 at 10:52 AM

    This is so true! Also, sometimes I can find an ancestor at FamilySearch but there’s no image. I go to HeritageQuest with the known information and can usually see and copy the image. I have experience with every one of your suggestions. Thanks for sharing the tip for those who don’t know and for reminding those of us who do.

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