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I’ve Lost My Census!

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August 6, 2018

When I began my genealogy research over 30 years ago, I tried searching for Australian census records without success. I had lost my census, but I hadn’t lost my senses! Someone explained to me that Australia destroyed all national censuses after gathering the statistical information in order to protect individual privacy. Important records all over the world have been lost due to fires, floods, or wars. Some major record losses include most of the 1890 U.S. Federal Census, some military files at the National Personnel Records Center, and many Irish records stored at the Public Records Office in Dublin. County courthouses burned during the Civil War or at other times, leaving many researchers frustrated.

What do you do when those records are missing? Look for recreated records or substitute documents when doing genealogical research. The 1890 Census was not a total loss. The records of 6,160 individuals and the 1890 Veterans Schedule survived. The 1890 Census fragments and Veterans Schedule are available on Ancestry Library Edition (in-library use only) and HeritageQuest Online. Look for state censuses, tax records, city directories, maps, and voter registrations to fill in the gaps when records have been lost. With a little digging, you should be able to find something that will further your research.

Also, check out State Census Records by Ann S. Lainhart or Census Substitutes & State Census Records by William Dollarhide for additional tips and ideas.

How have census substitutes helped you find an ancestor?

Jolene C.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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