Posts Tagged ‘census’

1860 Census Now Interactive – Add Your Own Comments for All to See

Readers of the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog are in for a treat starting Thursday May 8th.

Our favorite online data provider, Footnote, is coming out with something absolutely unique!

The 1860 Federal Census is now “interactive”! This will not be just another 1860 census, indeed!

What this means is that you will be able to locate your ancestor on the 1860 census and add your own personal information to the listing. If you have photos or documents, old letters, a diary, bible records, or previous research that you wish to share with others and to collaborate, then you will be able to add those items to the actual census entry for all to see from now on. This will also cite you as the contact person for that item. Now that’s exciting!

Footnote has been a pioneer in this interactive feature and it will be just like the inter-active Vietnam Wall that is available for free on Footnote, which we have written about in a previous Blog.

If you do not yet have a subscription you should check it out and take advantage of the Footnote FREE TRIAL!

Here is the actual press release from Footnote:

Footnote 1860 census interative news release


FOOTNOTE.COM ADDS TO ITS LEADING CIVIL WAR COLLECTION BY LAUNCHING THE FIRST-EVER INTERACTIVE 1860 US CENSUS’s innovative tools enable members to enrich the census records by adding photos, comments, and related documents to names featured on the records.

Lindon, UT – Today, announced the addition of the 1860 US Census to their Civil War Collection. As the largest online collection of original Civil War documents, this new addition to provides a snapshot of America before the bloodiest war in its history.

The 1860 US Census reveals many details about individuals at that time. What was their occupation? Where were they born? What was their marital status? Did they attend school? Could they read or write? Was your ancestor insane, idiotic, or a convict? The 1860 US Census will let you know.

“Is the 1860 US Census already on the internet? Yes,” says Russ Wilding, CEO of “But what makes the census different on Footnote is that these documents become interactive.” has developed tools that enable visitors not only to find someone in the census, but also to enrich the records by adding photos, linking related documents, and contributing insights to any name on the record. “Now they’re not merely names on a document,” explains Russ Wilding. “They become people as the contributions start to tell a story about that person.”

This past March, released a similar project using the same technology with an interactive version of the Vietnam War Memorial. For each name on the Wall, a visitor can view military service information, attached photos and comments. The success of the project is overwhelming as priceless contributions are added to the Wall. Footnote expects similar results with the launch of the 1860 US Census.

At, it’s more than just looking at a historical document. History becomes a living subject on as documents from archives come together for the first time on the Internet. Visitors to can add their own contributions and upload their own shoeboxes of information. Letters, documents, and photos from the past create a view of history that few have seen before.

Every month, two million new documents are added to the site and over a million people visit the site. Footnote promises to continue to deliver new discoveries for those whose interests range from the serious historian to the casual visitor looking for something entertaining.

To view the Civil War Collection including the 1860 US Census, visit today.

About Footnote, Inc. is a subscription website that features searchable original documents, providing users with an unaltered view of the events, places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. At, all are invited to come share, discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues. For more information, visit

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William Dollarhide’s "Census Substitutes & State Census Records," Reviewed.

Let’s go out on a limb here. As a serious genealogist and researcher for a great many years, I would venture to say that over half of the genealogists that do American Family History Research, do not take FULL advantage of ALL of the various State Censuses and Substitutes that are available.

That being said, let’s ask why not?
The simple answer is that until now researchers have never had one place to search in order to determine just what might be available for the area and the time period that they are studying.

Well that has all changed! William Dollarhide, friend of all genealogists, has compiled another excellent research tool!

“Census Substitute & State Census Records…” Volume 1 – Eastern States and Volume 2 – Western States, 2008, with Foreword by Leland K. Meitzler.

The Chapters are arranged by regions, such as for Volume 1; The Old Southwest, New England, Mid-Atlantic States, The Old South, The Old Northwest, The Central Plains. Volume 2 contains; Texas & Oklahoma, California & Nevada; Alaska & Hawaii, Nuevo Mexico, The Mountain West, and the Oregon Country.

At the start of each chapter there is a chronology of historical events and then there is an explanation of the particular Census Substitute or State Census that was created at that time. This is very beneficial to put you in the right frame of mind to think about “Gee, I wonder how this affected my ancestors, and I wonder if I might find them in this list?”

There are too many to count, but I would guess that there are thousands of places listed here that you have never heard of or would have ever thought to look for. There are source citations for each entry giving usually the Family History Library catalog number, or other location where these items will be located.

A suggestion to the beginning genealogists, “USE THIS BOOK!” A suggestion to the veteran researcher, “Go back over everything that you have done to date, and then USE THIS BOOK!” You are going to be amazed at what you missed. If you have been gathering just what was available on the U.S. Federal Censuses every ten years, you have missed mountains of evidence!

Of particular interest to Upstate New York Genealogy researchers is Leland Meitzler’s poignant discussion in the Foreword regarding New York State politics and greed surrounding the 1925 New York State Census.

Mr. Dollarhide has authored several other excellent research tools such as; “Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census,” “Map Guide to American Migration Routes,” and several others, of which his “New York State Censuses & Substitutes” was reviewed on our website and Blog at and given Five Stars!

William Dollarhide, “Census Substitute & State Census Records, An Annotated Bibliography of Published Name Lists for all 50 U.S. States and State Censuses for 37 States,” Volume 1 – Eastern States and Volume 2 – Western States, 2008, Published by Family Roots Publishing Company of Bountiful, Utah, with Foreword by Leland K. Meitzler.

Thank you Bill Dollarhide, from Upstate New York

The National Archives (NARA) wants your help.

The National Archives (NARA) is asking for input from anyone that is interested in their holdings to submit email comments regarding your own specific wishes for digitization.

There has been a great amount of material made public or by subscription with companies that have been electronically scanning the existing microfilm collection of NARA and offering the images on the web. The key word in that statement is “microfilm.” Here’s how it works. Many of NARAs holdings have been microfilmed previously and researchers have had access to those films through NARA, and the LDS Family History Library, and many other good reference libraries throughout the country. Some of the current commercial vendors like and genealogybank,,, and others, have been running those films through electronic gadgets that convert the film images to digital scans. This has opened up avenues into collections that are instantly available without having to order any film and it is an absolute marvel.

NARA says that only a very tiny percentage of their massive holdings have been filmed in the past and now they are in the advanced planning stage of their direct digital scanning project of a great deal more of their holdings, some of which has never seen the light of day. We are going to be seeing some brick wall battering rams here folks. Direct digital scanning of the complete original document is far superior to scanning those little tiny 35mm photos of documents.

NARA has a pdf file document that you can read and then respond to with your own personal comments and wishes. Here is the link:

Please take some time to cruise around NARAs web site at and come up with some of your own ideas. They do want your help and they promise to consider all input in their decision making process.

I submitted mine and got a very nice answer back the very next day.

For what it is worth, here are some random thoughts to consider from my own wish list. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Federal Census Department actually saved the originals of all of the federal census after they were microfilmed? I have always been under the opinion that the original census returns were destroyed after filming, but what if NARA still had them? Digital scanning is so far superior to the old microfilmed images, due to the tonal qualities, color imaging, and focusing ability, that it would result in history’s most important tool being scanned directly and digitized and we would all now be able to read those blurry, smudged, ink splattered, fly specked, scratched, out-of-focus, low contrast census returns that we all have noted in our research notes with (???)

My other big vote is to have the War of 1812 Service Records and Pension Records scanned. This collection has never been filmed yet and researchers that wanted to take the time and effort could send for photocopies of their ancestors files, however it has been time consuming and quite expensive. Suppose it all was put up on the web? Wow!

These are only a couple of my thoughts. Please come up with some of your own and respond to NARA before their comment cut-off date in November.

The email address to send your comments to is

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

Yates County GenWeb – Yates County Historian

I would like to call your attention to the Yates County GenWeb site. Quite often when visiting the various county GenWeb sites you will find a link to the County Historian’s office or website. In this case the GenWeb site is hosted by the Yates County Office of Public History,
(Yates Co. Historian, Frances Dumas.) Their url is: . You can always get to it from our website by clicking on “NY Counties & Census” then click on the “Yates” county name.

Yates County was formed in 1823 and from the unyg website you will notice that their county clerk has some of the New York State Census for 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1915 and 1925. See some of my previous Blogs regarding the NYS Census,

The Yates Co. GenWeb page has a great list of very unusual items available, and information on how to send for photocopies. Here is a partial list; Civil War service Records 1861-1865, Some of the early town record books for Jerusalem, Benton, Barrington, Stanley, Potter, Milo, and some early Village of Penn Yan Tax Records. There are also some early church records.

They also have Indexes to some early Deeds and Mortgages that were transferred from their parent counties of Ontario and Steuben. Marriage record Indexes 1908-1935 (see UNYG Blog:

There is an “every” name index to Yates County Surrogates Records, 1823-1910, and early Surrogates Packets. There is a newspaper index, some military records for the War of 1812, Civil War, and WW I. They also have an all name index to Cleveland’s 1873 “Yates county History.” Plus lots of links to other sites of interest.

This is a first rate website that should be very helpful to anyone researching in that gorgeous area of the Finger Lakes.

Dick Hillenbrand

Upstate New York Genealogy

Was the New York State Census created for Genealogists?

The New York State Census, surely was created just for future genealogists, right?

Wrong! I know this is hard to believe, but all of these civil record tools that we use, such as land records, estate records, tax lists, and census returns, were not created for us! It will help you to think about why and when these type of documents were created and to what purpose they would have been used at the time.

The federal census was taken every ten years by law in order to give the government a snapshot of the condition and growth of the nation. There was a 72 year restriction put on the use of the actual names and private information, however the statistical data was usually available within the following year. For instance you can find data all over the web about the year 2000 census, but the names will not be available until 2073. The 1930 census is the newest available at this time and the 1940 will be available in 2013.

Some states took their own census at various time periods, and on various schedules. New York State did enact a state census law and surveys were made also every ten years, however it was created usually on the “5” year in between the federal census. Here is the list of known state census that you might find; 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, “1892,” 1905, 1915, and 1925.

The 1911 fire at the state library in Albany was devastating to a great many original manuscript documents and the copies that the state had of the census were mostly all destroyed, or so I’ve been told. There are still a great many partial census returns that do exist, and all that have been located were microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) microfilming program. Copies of those microfilms were deposited with the NYS Library and may be viewed there but are not available for inter-library loan. They may also be viewed on film at any LDS Family History Center near you.

The original copies of these census returns are held at the county level and if you want to view the original document I would suggest you start with the county clerk. Not all of these returns exist and many are incomplete.

You might get lucky and find your family on some part of the following known returns. 1825, 1835, 1845, (those three are very good for agricultural information and will give you a comparative picture of your target family’s net worth. But they only show names of the heads of household and the rest of the residents are enumerated in age groupings, but no names.) Then 1855 (my personal favorite, gives the name of every person in the household including the relationship to the head of household, and another valuable piece of data is that it asked what county in NYS the person was born, or which other state or country, and it asks how many years resident in this specific town.) Then 1865 (gives information on men who served in the military.) 1875 is also very detailed, no census was taken in 1885, and the next one breaks the “5” year increment pattern, and was taken in 1892.

Some people believe that it was because the 1890 federal census was damaged in a fire, however that fire was many years later. There is a very detailed description of why the 1892 census was taken that was written by Melinda Yates and published in the journal of the Silvio O. Conte Friends of the National Archives, “Archival Anecdotes.” I am attempting to obtain a copy of that article and will describe it in better detail later. Essentially it was a political thing. One group in power did not want the expense of a census and then when a new Governor was elected, a census was ordered immediately. The 1892 census is not as helpful in many ways, because it just shows a running list of names of people and does not delineate the houses. It will give you the name of each person, their age and country of birth.

Then 1905, 1915, and 1925 census were taken and the families are again grouped within houses.

Here is an excellent website provided by Joe Biene that will describe in further detail NYS census information.

Here is a website of the Silvio O. Conte Friends of the National Archives that describes many finding aids for the NYS census.

The New York State Library has a webpage that is extremely helpful.

Stephen P. Morse’s “One Step” method of searching also has some very good details on the various NYS census.

My own Upstate New York Genealogy website, has a button on the left hand side marked “NY COUNTIES & CENSUS.” When you click it you will go to a chart of all of the county names, the date the county was formed, the parent county, and a list of known state census that exist. If you click on the county name it will take you directly to that county’s GenWeb site.

Remember not all parts of each census are extant. For instance, the 1865 census for Onondaga county did survive, except for the very first book which included the towns of Camillus, Cicero, Clay and DeWitt. My old friend Dick Wright of the Onondaga Historical Association told me that he remembered doing some research in the county clerk’s office back in the 1950’s and that particular volume was in a suitcase that one of the county workers had been taking home with him at night to transcribe some Civil War information out of. As I have no reason to doubt him, I suspect that is a true story and we can only hope that some day it might be located in someone’s attic or personal library, and returned.

To find out specific dates and towns that exist, the best place to go is the LDS Family History Library’s on-line library catalog at and do a “PLACE” search.

Dick Hillenbrand – Upstate New York Genealogy –

ps: It was pointed out by a reader that I neglected to mention William Dollarhide’s book “New York State Censuses & Substitutes.” Well it is a ‘must read!’ Se our eview of it at

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