Try First Name Plus Fam­ily Group

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CENSUS TIPS -

Our an­ces­tors tended to be more con­ser­va­tive with first names than we are now, and – even with bad hand­writ­ing

– a tran­scriber (or even the enu­mer­a­tor) will feel more con­fi­dent that they are read­ing ‘Wil­liam’, ‘Thomas’, ‘Su­san’ or ‘Anna’ than some of our more un­usual sur­names. If you are strug­gling to find some­one and you’ve tried dif­fer­ent spellings and wild­cards, try go­ing with­out a sur­name al­to­gether but add the first names of other peo­ple who are likely to be in the house­hold in that cen­sus year. I found this par­tic­u­larly use­ful af­ter one of my great great aunts mar­ried a French tu­tor whose sur­name var­ied on ev­ery cen­sus.

How­ever, some web­sites cope bet­ter with this than oth­ers. For ex­am­ple, thege­neal­o­ has al­ways al­lowed you to search in­di­vid­ual cen­suses us­ing the first names of fam­ily groups and is the best for this kind of search­ing, while find­my­ only lets you search with one ex­tra house­hold mem­ber – and al­though an­ces­ may give you the op­tion to search in a fam­ily group, it does not re­ally do this for the ear­lier cen­suses.

If you know who to ex­pect in a house­hold, try a com­bi­na­tion of first names

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