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16 April 2013

Census: Research family relationships, part 1

1940 U.S. Census. Illinois, Will, Frankfort. ED 99-11. Sheet 5B. William Kampe. National Archives. Washington, D. C. Ancestry,.com. accessed 15 April 2013

Digital census records offer a treasure of family clues. Is it possible to build a family from only digital census records? Sometimes this is the single clue to family members. This series of articles will attempt to demonstrate how to research family relationships from digital census records. In this series, the example demonstrates the techniques. Read for ideas not names or locations. FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com offer census indexes.

Research techniques:
  • Start from the most recent census available and work backwards
  • Build from the known to the unknown
  • Abstract the information thoroughly and correctly
  • Do not read into the record what is not there
  • Connect to the right family
  • Use collaborating documentation
The example for this article is a scanned image of the 1940 census; see photo. The genealogical citation would read as follows: 1940 U.S. Census, Will County, Illinois, population schedule, Frankfort Village, Frankfort Township, enumeration district (ED) 99-11, sheet 5B, household 181, William Kampe; digital images, Ancestry.com (complete URL; downloaded 5 April 2012); National Archives, Washington, D.C.
In 1940, the enumerator recorded the following data “Relationship of this person to the head of the household...” on each person in the family unit.
The census image answers the question of the relationship of each person to William Kampe:
  • Wilma is his daughter.
  • Henry is his son.
  • Mildred is his daughter-in-law.
  • Selma is his granddaughter.
The census does NOT answer the questions:
  • Who is Henry’s wife?
  • Who is Mildred’s husband?
  • Who are Selma’s parents?
Further research, beyond census records, is needed:
  • Marriage license
  • Birth certificate
  • Newspapers
  • Family members
Beyond the census results:
  • Henry J. Kampe and Mildred L. Schuler were married on Nov 19, 1938. The genealogical citation would read as follows: Illinois. Will County. Marriage Certificates. Marriage license no. 52414. County Clerk’s Office, Joliet, Illinois.
  • Selma’s birth certificate verifies that Henry John Kampe and Mildred Louise Schuler are her parents. The genealogical citation would read as follows: Illinois. Will County. Certificate of Birth. [Information privately held].
Census records offer hints or clues not absolute facts.
For comments and questions, please contact Selma Blackmon, thank you.

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