Sunday, April 24, 2011

Census and Vital Records

This is my handout from the lesson I taught last Thursday.


Census - An Indispensable Resource for Family History
Censuses have been around since the earliest recorded history, especially by centralized governments all over the world. For example: The Old Testament book of Numbers gets its name from a census that was made when the pyramids were new ...
In the New Testament, the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem was for a Roman census related to taxation ...
Whenever governments wanted to know who is available to form an army or to pay taxes, it was time for another census ...
In more modern times, most of the Western world has a national census every 10 years. This allows you to follow a family backwards in time, giving a rough time-line of moves and births, marriages and deaths.
Here is the family of James Lidgett and Mary Ann Tyson in Lincolnshire, England.

The chart is compiled from census records spanning 41 years. The census gives the birth places and approximate birth years. This makes it relatively easy to find vital records.
James Lidgett born Ludford Parva, Lincoln18451845184518451845
Mary A Lidgett born Ludford Magma, Lincoln 1846184518461846
Edith Lidgett born Ludford Magma, Lincoln 18691869  
James LIDGITT born Ludford, Lincoln  1872  
Sarah J. LIDGITT born Ludford, Lincoln  1875  
Charles W. LIDGITT born Ludford, Lincoln  18761875 
Mary Ann LIDGITT born Ludford, Lincoln  18781878 
George H. LIDGITT born Ludford, Lincoln  18801880 
Thomas LIDGITT born Ludford, Lincoln  18811882 
Fred Lidgett born Ludford Magma, Lincoln   18841884
Earnest Lidgett born Sixhills, Lincoln   18861886
Agnes Lidgett born Sixhills, Lincoln   18881888
Auther Lidgett born Benniworth, Lincoln   18901891
Vital Records
By "vital records" we mean records of major life events: birth (or christening), marriage, death (or burial). In different time periods, vital records may be kept at the national level (e.g. England and Wales), or at the state/provincial level (e.g. Canada), or at the municipal/county level (e.g. USA), or they may be kept at multiple levels – even in the countries listed above. In addition, vital records may also be kept by non-governmental organizations such as churches. Local newspapers may also record births, marriages and deaths.

Primary or Secondary Sources?
This question becomes important if different sources provide conflicting data. A primary source is a record created at the time of the event, by someone who was present. In a court of law this would be referred to as "eye witness evidence". A secondary source was created at a later time or by someone who wasn't present. In a court of law, this would be referred to as "hearsay evidence" (probably true, but open to challenge).
Your research will have greater credibility if you can support your data with sources. Your sourcing should allow other researchers to know (a) what you found and (b) where you found it. It can also be important to explain the basis of conclusions you have drawn from the evidence. PAF's notes gives plenty of space to do this.

No comments:

Post a Comment