I recently finished Lesson 11 of the National Genealogical Society Home Study Course on migration and census analysis. I decided to use what I created from the census portion of the assignment to write an article for the Koreny journal for the Czech and Slovak American Genealogical Society of Illinois. My research focuses on my Czech family in Chicago.

Let me explain the assignment. I had to choose two censuses in which an ancestor appeared. Transcribe that census for the ancestor and his family plus 100 people surrounding the ancestor. Then analyze the data and write a narrative report. I chose my great-great grandfather Joseph Kokoska and roughly 100 of his neighbors for 1900. By 1910 that number increased to over 100 because so many more people moved into the neighborhood.

Census analysis is not only interesting for cities, but rural areas as well. Analyzing the census for your ancestor and 100 or so of his neighbors for multiple census years may show:

  • Families that migrated from place to place together.
  • Same surname families you missed in other research that may or may not be related.
  • Information about the wealth, or lack thereof, of the people in the community.
  • Demographic changes from census year to census year. Did the community grow older, younger, remain roughly the same? Did a new ethnic group move in and the original one move out? Did more people own or rent homes? Did the occupations change drastically?

Those are just a few things a census analysis can show you. So what are you waiting for? Start transcribing a couple of census years for your ancestors and see what you find. You might just break down a brick wall or find a new relative.

Have you already done a census analysis? What did you find? Please post in the comments.

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