Why You May Be Missing Your Ancestor on the Census at Ancestry.com
By Jan Edwards
When you search the census at Ancestry.com, you could miss finding your ancestor. The person you are looking for could actually be on the digital image of the census, but there is a problem with the index.
You know how sometimes the census taker used dittos instead of entering the same information (like the surname) again on each line? If the indexer only saw the surname on the head of house, he did not list the surname for others in the household even if they are listed as son, daughter or wife. So the surname for rest of the people in the household was not included.
Here are a few examples from the 1880 United States Federal Census, but it was done in all of the census years.
All of these are in a household as a wife or child with a head of household listing a surname. The indexer elected to only put what they saw. So if there were ditto marks or a dash they were not listed with a surname.
Here is Frances and James T.
She is not listed in the index with a surname.
Here is Edward N.
Edward nor his mother or siblings are listed with a surname in the index.
Here is Etty
Etty, nor her mother or siblings are listed with a surname in the index.
Here is Fredric
Fredric nor his mother or siblings are listed with a surname in the index.
Here is William R.
William R. nor his mother or siblings are listed with a surname in the index.
So what do we learn?
Search without a surname, use first name, date, and location.
Search the index for people with NO surname listed.
Add a little more if needed
If you still are not finding them…. JUST ASK! We may be able to help!