Washington Census Tips

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United States Census Gotoarrow-kelly.png Washington Census Gotoarrow-kelly.png Tips

Census Tips[edit | edit source]

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Find your ancestor in every census taken while he/she was alive.

  • Relatives, such as grandchildren or married children, may live with them.
  • They may live with a child, such as a married daughter, in their later years.
  • Follow the children through censuses.
  • Neighbors may be relatives or old friends from their home state.
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Check marriages for women in the county where your ancestor was found in a census. Then find those women and their husbands the SAME census.

  • You may find sisters living in the area.
  • Your ancestor's widowed mother may have remarried. Were the women old enough to be sisters? Aunts? The mother?
  • Did any of those husbands witness your ancestor's deeds and other records? Were they near neighbors?
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Pay close attention to the ages and birthplaces.

  • Gaps in ages of children may be a clue to:
  • A second marriage of the couple: Check marriage records for this.
  • A child died young. Check cemetery, church, funeral, and other records.
  • The state or nation where the children were born is a clue to:
  • When the family migrated
  • Ages of husband and wife may be clues:
  • In a second marriage, the husband may be older than the wife.
  • Compare ages of the wife and the children:
  • The oldest child: was the wife too young to be the mother? (Child-bearing years for most women were between 16–40.)
  • The youngest child: was the wife too old?
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Check a map to see county boundaries for the census year you want to search.


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Ask questions to analyze what you are seeing: It is possible? Is it probable?
For example:

Census Index Tips[edit | edit source]

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Check another index if you did not find your family.}}

  • Indexers vary in skill and accuracy
  • The quality of the image or copy they used affects the quality of the index
  • Some indexers are local and more familiar with the names or families of the area than others
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Check county census indexes when online indexes fail.

  • Created by local societies or groups who knew the families of the area, these indexes are often more accurate
  • Footnotes or information about the family may be added
Where to find county census indexes:

How Censuses Can Help You Find[edit | edit source]

Names of Parents[edit | edit source]

Maiden Name of Mother[edit | edit source]

A child's middle name is sometimes the maiden name of the mother

Obituaries sometimes list maiden name of wife/mother

On this Wiki - Maiden Names in the United States

How do I know this is MY person?[edit | edit source]

Family members - the more you know the more you will recognize Occupation

Other people your ancestor knew How is this going to be explained?

Migration from another state[edit | edit source]

Marriage: When and Where[edit | edit source]

Immigration and Naturalization[edit | edit source]

Some federal censuses give the year of immigration.