I had a lot of requests about the form I used to track my families through census records in this post. I finally found the original email that had the original form from the original creator. Like most good things in the genealogy sphere, she – being Shirley Fields – got the idea from someone who got the idea from someone, and then she tweaked it a bunch of times and eventually it was sent to me, where it changed my life. No, really.
She gave me permission to “duplicate it, share it, mutilate it, or pitch it out as you see fit” … so I will share the Excel spreadsheet with you. (click the pic)
The way it works is this: begin with the marriage date (-ish, if you don’t have exact) of the primary couple – the parents, and you track all the children – in birth order – according to all the census records from the date of marriage until the children reach adulthood and marry out of the household. I like to transcribe their names exactly as they appear on the census (that has helped me solve a problem or two), and I write their ages in parentheses with their names. This helps see at a glance whether they are aging “properly.” You can use it for federal and/or state censuses (I use it for both).
I make notes of others listed in the households at the bottom of each column, whether they are relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, etc.) or not (boarders, farm hands, etc.).
When a family member marries or dies (or is listed with other family members), I like to color-code the boxes on the census from which they are missing with a brief explanation, and then the married couple gets their own sheet.
Let me know in the comments about problems you had that were solved by using this form. I’d love to hear about them!
Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com
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