Census aid

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big difference.

I created a little two-column chart that I put up on my bulletin board. In the left-hand column is a census year for each of the censuses from 1790 to 1940. In the right-hand column is the corresponding ordinal number. So 1940 is Sixteenth, 1930 is Thirteenth and so forth.

If you’ve looked at a U.S. census, you know that the year of the census is in tiny letters but which census it is (Fifteenth, Fourtheenth, etc.) is in big letters. I can’t tell you how much squinting this little chart has prevented.

I love it when I can do one little thing to make my life easier.

In case you’re interested in printing one out for yourself, I attach a link here to a pdf of my chart: census ordinal numbers. I hope you find it helpful!

Ordering my first vital record

Today I was trying to fill in some blanks on my great grandmother, Hattie’s, info. I wasn’t able to locate her on the 1880 census. I believe she was born in 1875 and married in 1897 and since the 1890 census was destroyed in the fire, the 1880 census is my only chance to verify her living with her parents.

Since I’ve decided I will not move up a generation until I have a good source to link generations (in other words, I think I know who Hattie’s parents are, but I don’t have proof, so I’m not willing to enter them into Reunion until I do), I feel a little stymied at my inability to at least use the census to verify her parents, as I’ve done with my other great grandparents.

When searching by her name and her parents’ names failed, I tried browsing the enumeration district from the 1880 census that Hattie’s husband, Elmer, was living in, thinking that’s how they might know one another. No dice.

I did find the death certificate and the Civil War pension application for the person I think is Hattie’s father, so I’m all jazzed up to enter him into the software. But I’m waiting until the relationship is verified.

So I decided to try to get a copy of her death certificate. I found an index entry in the California Death Index via Ancestry.com. So I did a google search to see how I could order a copy.

Here’s where my big tip comes in: One way I was searching (via Ancestry, I think) took me through VitalCheck, which charges a $12.95 service fee on top of the $16 fee Alameda County charges. That seemed exorbitant to me, so I went back to google and found that I could order directly from the Alameda County Recorder. No processing fee, not even a shipping fee if I go with standard postal mail, which I did. To be fair, the VitalCheck order included expediting, I believe. But I have no need for expediting–there are plenty of relatives to research while I wait. So now I’m feeling very good (and a little smug) about saving 13 bucks.

When I receive the death certificate, which will won’t be at least for a few weeks, I’ll post about the information I gleaned from it. I did a google image search and found a death certificate from the early 1970s that included parents’ names, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to definitively make the link between Hattie and the couple I think are her parents!