Census Tracking Basics

What is a census?

Census Pic

A census is an official count and gathering of information about a population. The first United States Federal census was conducted in 1790. A census contains information for a residence such as the head of household’s name, and the ages, gender and number of people living in that household. Beginning in 1850, the United States Federal Census lists a name, gender, race, age, occupation, and state or country of birth for each member of a household.

Why are censuses useful?

Many genealogists use a census as a starting place for research. Each census contains a lot of information, but it was not designed specifically for genealogy research. Enumerators, the census takers, recorded information but did not verify it. Census data contains many clues that help you to find accurate, or primary sources of information. A census should only be a secondary source for most information.

What is census tracking?

Census Table Census tracking is comparing information from many censuses to derive new information. Tracking families through multiple years can be confusing, so you will need to have a system or program to keep yourself from being drowned in paperwork. By using charts and tables, the data becomes much easier to analyze. You can use spreadsheets for tracking census information but you will still need to manually compare that information with your genealogy database. Gleaning all the potentially useful data from a census requires careful examination, and can be very rewarding.


Why use MagiKey Census Tracker?

There is a less complicated option.

MagiKey Family Tree (www.themagikey.com) is a new solution that makes census tracking easy and meaningful. The internal Census Tracker uses the existing information in your database, to do most of the work. When you initially open the Census Tracker, the expected age of each family member is automatically calculated and displayed. You can quickly link the census to the entire household using extraction forms specific to each year.

census entry form

The Census Tracker is a table that automatically updates for every household member. It highlights differences between expected and extracted ages. You can even access an interactive timeline with a single click to identify possible discrepancies between the census data and other sources. By integrating the Census Tracker with MagiKey Family Tree, your genealogy database is automatically updated without retyping information. Your generated reports can contain the census data, and census research becomes easy, fun, and rewarding.

 For PDF version of our Census Tracking class handouts please visit our Handout page.

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