Why Aren’t My Relatives in the Census?





Help! I can’t find my ancestors anywhere in the census.  Where are they?

This is so frustrating.  So why can’t you find them?

There are several reasons:

  • That locale was overlooked by the census taker  {I had this happen to one entire family on the 1870 census}
  • The family lived somewhere else
  • The family name is misspelled—use various spellings on your ancestors namefinding missing person
  • Your dates are off—again you can adjust these in your search
  • The husband died and the wife has remarried or is living with a married daughter.  They may be found other a different surname.  Sometimes even children from a first marriage are mistakenly listed under the surname of the second marriage
  • May have been institutionalized
  • Your ancestor may be listed by initials only—some families have only initials for everyone and this can be very frustrating to determine
  • Your ancestor was not home when the census taker came by and was not listed
  • Anglicization or change of name

Sometimes you can find family members by searching for their children, neighbors or various spellings.  You may also want to go through all of the census images for the area they were living that year.  Don’t give up until you’ve pursued all possibilities.

Join the Conversation:  What are some ways in which you’ve found missing ancestors on the census?

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