Census Sunday – 1940

Census Sunday is one of the newer blogging prompts from Geneabloggers, and after one of my “revelations” this week, it seemed pretty appropriate to talk about the 1940 Census.  After all, the 1940 Census is the most modern Census that has been made available to the public for research.  It provides some of the most in-depth insight into our more modern ancestors.  This Census will yield a wealth of information.  Right?

Well….only if the Census taker had good enough handwriting that the later transcriber could read the last name correctly!  And in the case of my grandparents and aunt and uncle…THAT didn’t happen!


I have not done a huge amount of research with the 1940 Census yet simply because most of the generations that are contained in this Census are ones that I have been able to get most of my information via family interviews and such.  This week, I decided to take a look into the 1940 Census just to pull up information on my Grandparents and my aunt and uncle.  I knew where they lived in 1940, and I figured it would be an easy pickup on my research.  Unfortunately for me, they appeared no where in any of the searches I did on Ancestry.com for that year!

I was convinced I was right about where they lived, and so I began doing some digging.  I checked their residence from both the 1920 and 1930 Census data.  They had lived in Ft. Wayne, Indiana for both of those Censuses, but I did notice that they had moved in between.  Time to check the Census maps for 1940 and see what enumeration district their last “known” address would fall into.  After jumping over to the National Archives to find that info, I pulled up the sheets for Wayne Township, Ward 10, Enumeration District 94-100A, and I began scrolling….and scrolling…..and scrolling.  Then I found the family living about 5 blocks from where they did in 1930.  I also found why they had been so hard to track down.  When the Census sheet was scanned, there was a “smudge” on the “n” in Link.  As a result, the person who had transcribed the Census for Ancestry, had listed the family as “Lisk” instead of “Link.”  Now, why the transcriber had read my grandmother’s first name as “Hanuanah” instead of “Hannah” I will never understand!

US Census – 1940 – Wayne Twp, Ward 10, En Dist 94-100A

Weekend Finds

I’ve been spending much of the weekend writing and doing organization/cleanup for my new focus to go back and fully document and “prove” each generation, but I have to admit that I couldn’t resist the urge to go on a hunt for at least one new fact.  I am quite happy to say that my thirst for the hunt paid off….I found a new 1860 census record for my great great grandfather despite the fact that the first and last name are completely butchered (as was apt to happen for brand new immigrants in the 1800s)!  In an upcoming Tuesday Tip, I will detail how I successfully found this errant record and can confirm that it is, indeed, my ancestor.

Happy Hunting!

Lost or Misplaced??

I found myself going through the 1940 Census on Ancestry.com trying to figure out why on earth my Grandfather and the rest of my mother’s family had seemingly disappeared during that Census.  After getting very frustrated in not finding them where I knew they should be living, I turned to another resource – FamilySearch.org.  I performed the same search, and voila!  The family appeared in the search and I went right to the Census sheet.

Hmm…something is obviously amiss here.

So now the question became, “Why does Ancestry not show them???”  After browsing through the individual images of the 1940 Census for the enumeration district where I had confirmed they lived, I came upon the answer… The transcriber for Ancestry.com listed the last name as “Lisk” vs the correct name of “Link.”

This is probably one of the most blatant examples I have run into of where transcription leads to a lost relative.  Even the Soundex Codes for the two names are different – L520 vs L200.  They even mis-transcribed “Hannah” into “Hanuah”!

Needless to say, it pays to not accept that a relative is “lost” just because a search doesn’t yield the results you think it should.  Try different avenues, and you may just find that someone else just “misplaced” your relative!