1860 U.S. Federal Census

In response to my blog of 7th January Kerry Church Records Missing, one of my readers – John Patrick Sullivan commented  and also added his own valuable observations  on U.S. Federal Census records. I would always advise readers searching for their Kerry ancestors ‘Start your search at home’   ‘At Home’ means where your ancestor immigrated to.  When you have got as much information as possible from birth/marriage, naturalisation and Census records, only then should you make your way to Irish/Kerry records.

John says:   

For those searching through various genealogical records in the United States, many of Kay’s points also apply. There are many, many, many gaps in the records. Some of the gaps are due to fire, flood and other typical calamities. Other records were destroyed on purpose. As was the case in Ireland, we lost many records during our Civil War. Both Union and Confederate Armies were guilty of burning down court houses and post offices throughout various states. Most of my U.S. “Brick Walls” were erected as a result of our Civil War.

For those searching for the Constitutionally mandated U.S. Federal Census 1890, you are pretty much out of luck. A fire in Washington, D.C. burned about a third of the census returns. Our census is the basis for re-apportioning our House of Delegates. We currently have 435 members of our Congress that are assigned to the various states based on the population gauged on the Federal Census taken once every ten years. The 2020 Federal Census will cause some states to gain further members of Congress and consequently, some states will lose members of Congress. The loss of one third of the 1890 Federal Census was a major Constitutional crisis. One would hope that Congress would vote to allocate the funds for a “do-over” but that was not to be the case. In their infinite wisdom, Congress voted to destroy the other two-thirds of the 1890 Federal Census records.

Last point on U.S. records, especially in regard to transcribing the Federal Censuses. During our Great Depression, job programs were created to put people to work under such programs as the WPA (Work Progress Administration) to build national parks, highways, and other infrastructure projects. During this same time period, the Census Bureau undertook a project to microfilm 34 million records from the 1900 Federal Census (other years followed). They also decided on a means of indexing these same records using a new and somewhat controversial system…SOUNDEX. Given the huge range of ethnic names in the American melting pot, it was quite an undertaking. It involved a substantial number of persons who were both newly hired and newly trained. In the end, it did create jobs, put money in circulation, food on the table and gave librarians, historians and genealogists a new tool to store and retrieve valuable records’.

Information on U.S. Federal Census Records here.