Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dollarhide's Book Required Reading For Census Research In New York State

New York State Censuses & Substitutes by William Dollarhide is an excellent guide to the state censuses of New York, that provides guidance to genealogists trying to locate and do research on the census records and census substitutes available for New York State and its 62 counties. As an added bonus, Dollarhide's book includes county boundary maps and census extraction forms for New York State.

If you are doing family history work on ancestors who lived in the state of New York, "New York State Censuses & Substitutes" is a 'must-have' book!

Census records and name lists for New York are found mostly at the county level, and this book shows which census records or census substitutes exist for each of New York’s sixty-two counties and where they can be found.

In addition to the many statewide official censuses taken by New York, this book references census substitutes and name lists for time periods in which the state did not take an official census. It also shows the location of copies of federal census records and provides county boundary maps and numerous state census facsimiles and extraction forms.
  • Identifies 448 state census originals for New York’s 62 counties, located at 68 different New York depositories, plus transcripts, extracts, and indexes in print.
  • Identifies 120 statewide and regional name lists, including tax lists, land records, military lists, newspaper indexes, CD-ROM publications, and online resources.
  • Identifies 105 original 1850–1880 federal censuses held by 30 New York counties.
  • Identifies over 1,200 census substitutes and selected name lists. Substitutes include tax lists, voter registrations, military lists, and deed indexes. Selected lists include county histories, city directories, naturalization indexes, and vital records indexes.
  • Identifies over 1,500 online town references to find direct links to census extracts, indexes, or other name lists online.
  • Identifies over 3,700 bibliographic citations in total, each with detailed descriptions and notes, library call numbers, and FHL film numbers.
  • Includes 19 county boundary maps for the period 1683–1915, showing the evolution of all New York counties and adjoining jurisdictions in bordering states and Canada.
  • Includes 26 New York State Census Extraction Forms, 1825–1925, with all population, military, agriculture, industry, birth, death, and marriage schedules; plus the 1890 New York Police Census and the 1880 Short Form; as well as 26 facsimilies showing the actual state census schedules, tables, pages, and columns.

The federal census of the United States has been taken every ten years from 1790 to the present day to provide the government with a look at the condition and growth of the nation. There is a restriction of 72 years on the use of the names and personal information, however the statistical data was usually available within the following year. For example you will find data about the year 2000 census, but the names will not be available until 2073. The 1930 census is the latest available census and the 1940 will be made available in 2013.

Some states took their own census at various time periods, and on various schedules. New York State implemented a state census that was done just about 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 will find: 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, “1892,” 1905, 1915, and 1925. No state census was taken in 1885.

There was a fire at the state library in Albany in 1911 that was devastating to many of the original manuscript documents, and copies that the state had for the census were pretty much all destroyed.

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.

Luckily the microfilm can be viewed at any LDS Family History Center, but you will need to have it sent to that Center which will take a couple of weeks and costs around $5.00. Here's an article outlining where you can locate a Family History Center near you.

A good idea if you are looking for ALL information about a specific location, like Albany County, New York for example, is by checking the LDS Family History Library’s on-line library catalog and clicking a “PLACE SEARCH”. By inputing "New York, Albany", all the information available through the LDS Family History Center will be displayed. All you need to do is go to your local Family History Center and request it be borrowed and in a few weeks you will be able to review anything listed on the online catalog.

The 1825, 1835, 1845 returns offer very good for agricultural information and will give you a picture of your family’s net worth. But they as they are heads of household returns, the rest of the residents are enumerated in age groupings, but no names. It isn't until the 1855 census that the names of each person in the household and their relationship to the head of the household is given, and they were asked what county in New York State the person had been born, or which other state or country they had been born. Another helpful fact provided was that they were asked how many years they were resident in this specific town. The 1865 gives information on the men who served in the military. 1875 continues with the very detailed questions, but unfortunately, no census was taken in 1885. The next census taken was for 1892.

The 1892 census is not quite as good, because it just shows a list of names of people and does not show each the household, but 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 as a household.

Here is an excellent website provided by Joe Biene that will describe in further detail New York State census information:
New York State Census Records 1825-1925

The New York State Library has a very useful webpage:
New York State Census Records