I can’t find my Ancestors in the Census. Try a US City Directory.

14 Oct

Recently I have been spending less time on my family tree and more time helping a friend with hers.  Her relatives have been illusive so I have learned some new hunting tricks.  She had one family that we were able to find passenger log, US directories, SSI records and even draft cards, but not one single census record.  Now knowing the census takers went around and phonetically spelled people names we figured the last name must have been completely misspelled (it was a long one).  So how do you find a census record that doesn’t want to be found?

You use the US City Directories.

We had the directories for the years 1924, 1926, 1927, and 1935.  Now while none of these address are the same, they are all in the same area.  So we begin our search in the 1930 census.  When you go into ancestry, click the search tab and then look for the census records.  Then click on the census year you want to search and you will get a page that looks like this.



What you want to do now is go to the right side where it says Browse this collection and add your state, county and township. Which will give you all the districts in that area.  Now what I did was use the US directories to find the streets that were lived on.  For this example I am going to use my Great Great Grandparents. I know they lived on School Street in 1930.


















You will notice that school street is one of the listed streets under district 221.  So that is where we begin the search. This next screen shot shows the beginning of District 221 and the census records that follow.


Once you pull up the district you will have to look thru each page to find your ancestors.  Keep in mind that there may be 50 pages or more in that district.  You will just have to be patient when you look, but it does work.

While we did not have the exact location of my friends relatives during the census year, we used an educated guess based on the US City directories and the past streets they lived on and found her ancestors in both the 1930 and the 1940 census.

However the reason we couldn’t find her ancestors wasn’t just simply a misspelled last name.  They whole census page was mislabeled in Ancestry.  When you hovered over there names different names came up.  So make sure you are carefully looking at the records and what they say.

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Posted by on October 14, 2015 in Finding Ancestors


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