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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Ancestry and Genealogy Using Census Records for Research Using Census Records for Research

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Old 07-20-2013, 03:24 PM   #1
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Using Census Records for Research

I have a subscription to Ancestry.com and have been doing research for years. I don't like to use other people's tree info as a lot of them don't have any citations to back up their information. I normally rely on census records. Because of discrimination against Natives I have heard that many didn't describe themselves as such on census forms. If that is the case, how do you do research Native bloodlines?
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Old 07-21-2013, 12:01 PM   #2
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I ran into that myself. Depending on where you are located, there should be some form of Native American roll that was taken in the past. The B.I.A had field offices in many places, so they did take a census record of the Natives inhabiting the areas.

I am from Michigan, and I did find some records that showed my Ancestors as white, but other records that clearly had Native American or Red as their race. It takes some searching. But they are out there.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:02 PM   #3
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I ran into that myself. Depending on where you are located, there should be some form of Native American roll that was taken in the past. The B.I.A had field offices in many places, so they did take a census record of the Natives inhabiting the areas.

I am from Michigan, and I did find some records that showed my Ancestors as white, but other records that clearly had Native American or Red as their race. It takes some searching. But they are out there.

Thank you, I will look into that.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:02 PM   #4
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ou are most welcome. Glad I could be of help. I spent the better part of 5 years sorting through all kinds of data. It can be frustrating, but in the long run very rewarding.


I am now proceeding to my Canadian Ancestors, and that is proving to be an even bigger challenge.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:38 AM   #5
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The US Census reports I have been researching only list White, Black, or Mullato. Plus the use of initials and multiple spellings has made the census a nightmare for me. To add to that my ancestors didn't make it onto all the reports.

I don't think the census takers cared very much.
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Old 07-25-2013, 04:38 PM   #6
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The US Census reports I have been researching only list White, Black, or Mullato. Plus the use of initials and multiple spellings has made the census a nightmare for me. To add to that my ancestors didn't make it onto all the reports.

I don't think the census takers cared very much.
I have found basically the same kind of info. Frustrating!
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:45 AM   #7
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I have found basically the same kind of info. Frustrating!
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:02 AM   #8
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LOL... Yeah! Kinda like that!
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Old 07-26-2013, 01:46 AM   #9
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HA, That's how I feel.
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Old 11-13-2013, 03:23 PM   #10
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I know that feeling looking at cencus

we were white in some black in others mulatto on some got lucky 1870 we were enumerated as Indian. got a lot of stuff interesting in some we een found a story written in about the town they lived near.

The nationality of the Bradly family was not fully defined. It was well understood that they did not belong to the Anglo-Saxon race. The ancestors of the family claimed to be full-blooded Indians. The first one of the family, of whom I have any recollection, was old Aunt Winney, who had in her features some very striking marks of the Indian race. She lived to be very old and finally committed suicide by hanging herself in the chimney corner, by fastening a hank of thread around the pole, to which the pot-rack hung. This pole was several feet up the chimney, but there were some projecting rocks, upon which she could place her feet

this happened around after 1930 and before 1840
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Old 11-14-2013, 03:09 AM   #11
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I have a subscription to Ancestry.com and have been doing research for years. I don't like to use other people's tree info as a lot of them don't have any citations to back up their information. I normally rely on census records. Because of discrimination against Natives I have heard that many didn't describe themselves as such on census forms. If that is the case, how do you do research Native bloodlines?
In the old censuses nearly all of my family are listed as white despite the fact that they're all full blooded Ojibwa. My family are listed in the Durant rolls with their blood quantum.
Also, my great grandpa x 3 was a civil war scout great x 4 Grampa was a well documented Chief who gave the pigmently challenged a killer bargain for an enormous chunk of Michigan, but I digress. Look at old Indian boarding school rolls, military records and land allotments.
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Old 11-14-2013, 12:20 PM   #12
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I have a subscription to Ancestry.com and have been doing research for years. I don't like to use other people's tree info as a lot of them don't have any citations to back up their information. I normally rely on census records. Because of discrimination against Natives I have heard that many didn't describe themselves as such on census forms. If that is the case, how do you do research Native bloodlines?
from 1840 I think they didnt know how to numerate native Americans,I can trace mine to about 1800, it started with being colored free people, then around 1850 they are mulatto, but after 1860 alot that looked white were white,they if they looked black they were black my 4th GF is black in 1910 then he dies before 1920 his wife is white, only in 1880 or 1870 my ancestors were enumerated as Indian, also before 1840 we got lucky,they Enumerated either my 6th GM or great aunt, but guess they found she was Indian and scratched thru her name, the early years since they didnt know how to enumerate Indians they didnt add them to the census
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:32 PM   #13
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The things I noticed about census records in helping others in genealogy was that NDNs were counted more than any other group. If you go to the Ancestry section of NDN records only, you might find that they counted almost yearly a census of NDN nations. It's pretty easy if your ancestors stayed with the main group. Be careful in your spelling. Sometimes they used an NDN name, sometimes an English and sometimes both. Those enumerators couldn't spell worth crap.

If your ancestor intermarried and/or left the group, it's not as easy. In the general census some years they counted NDNs as "colored" or some other distinctions. Sometimes I've seen "Ind" for race. It wasn't consistent.

What I would do is first check the Native American resources, the censuses they took with the tribal nations. Sometimes they even marked how much NDN blood your ancestor had. 8/8 was a full blood. 7/8 meant he/she had one g-grandparent who was non-NDN...if you were looking for an white or black ancestor, you had that clue.

Another place to go is to a historian of the tribe you belong to. The historian may have access to a census that isn't on ancestry. Also, you can find more recent information on NDNs than the general population. I followed my dad up to the 1950s while the general census available on Ancestry is only to the 1940s.

One often overlooked resource is newspapers. There are newspaper archives out there and a free resource called Chronicling America. The general population loved to read about the NDNs. From about 1830 through modern times, you can find info on individuals that way. I found a TON of info on my family. It was eye opening!
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:04 PM   #14
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Standing Bear Case/Census

I am probably wrong again, as is usually the case, but as I have heard dumb people get smart by asking dumb questions. I thought Native Americans were usually not included in the US Census, because of a US Supreme Court case--I think part of the name is Standing Bear--that held that "Indians" were not "persons." Could anyone enlighten me about this?
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Old 12-30-2013, 05:52 PM   #15
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Standing Bear/Census

I need to apologize to everyone. I had my facts wrong. In the Standing Bear case, the holding was that Standing Bear was a person. So I guess what I was remembering was that--before the Standing Bear case--NDNs were not considered "persons." I do not know whether they were included in the US Census or not, before the Standing Bear case. Does someone know about this?
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Old 01-01-2014, 03:11 PM   #16
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I am probably wrong again, as is usually the case, but as I have heard dumb people get smart by asking dumb questions. I thought Native Americans were usually not included in the US Census, because of a US Supreme Court case--I think part of the name is Standing Bear--that held that "Indians" were not "persons." Could anyone enlighten me about this?
It wasn't that NDNs weren't persons; they were enumerated elsewhere in the Indian censuses. However, if Indians were in the general population, they were counted and that's the problem genealogical searchers have found in the racial distinction within the general populations.

This also happened between nations. A Ho-chunk woman married to a Sac and Fox man, living on his reservation was enumerated with her nation and is absent from the Sac and Fox census as though she doesn't live there. Their children were added under the husband's name. But she was not listed. It wasn't that she wasn't considered a person but that they didn't want to double count her and kept her with her birth nation over her residence.

Some enumerators have added those from other nations there, but with an asterisk to denote that they are not of that nation and then when the final tally was given, those were not counted since they were counted elsewhere.

I can imagine it was difficult for whomever was organizing the censuses. Do you count as a roll of same nation people or do you count them regarding their residence? I can imagine this would pose many problems. I'm also thinking that the enumerators had a motto: "when in doubt, leave them out" when it came to Indians as these censuses were tied to annuities, and to correct, it was easier to add a person rather than subtract one. (Most censuses asked what number this person was on the last census and they merely needed an explanation for any new name other than a newborn's.)

I hope this helps.
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What to do if you do not know tribal affiliation?

That is very helpful. Do you have any suggestions about what to do when you do not know tribal affiliation. If I knew the nation, I could go to a powwow and network or use a tribal website. All I have to work with is my Grandfather's statement: My mother or grandmother was all or part NDN. It may seem strange that he didn't know about his mother or grandmother, but he was born in 1896,as I remember, and people had big families then and he was one of the youngest. I know as a young adult he was in Lincoln County Kansas and what I have just related is everything I remember, except for the names of his parents, which I am not sure I want to discuss publicly over the internet. Any suggestions about what to do?
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:31 AM   #18
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That is very helpful. Do you have any suggestions about what to do when you do not know tribal affiliation. If I knew the nation, I could go to a powwow and network or use a tribal website. All I have to work with is my Grandfather's statement: My mother or grandmother was all or part NDN. It may seem strange that he didn't know about his mother or grandmother, but he was born in 1896,as I remember, and people had big families then and he was one of the youngest. I know as a young adult he was in Lincoln County Kansas and what I have just related is everything I remember, except for the names of his parents, which I am not sure I want to discuss publicly over the internet. Any suggestions about what to do?
I would trust only documented sources anyway. Word of mouth is okay for a starting place, but you need to verify everything.

It's pricey to hire someone to do genealogy for you, so let's consider what detective work you can do. The genealogists have the same amount of info available that you have with an Ancestry subscription and a newspaper archive.

I would start with your grandfather and find his birth information. With that, you have his mother's maiden name (if you don't have it already) and you can follow her. A census is only part of it. Ancestry has a lot of other records too. You might even find marriage records that have information that will lead you in the right direction.

If you would like me to help get you started, PM me and I'll set you off in the right direction. I could help better with a little more information, which you can put in the PM

I'm going to tell you what I tell a lot of folks looking for their native ancestry. Some people get mad when I tell them, but I want to be up front: For some reason folks during the time when westerns were romanticized and people loved the Indian culture, it happened that some of the older folk identified with the thought there could have been some native blood in the family and then over time it changed from "could have been" to "for sure" native blood. And these innocent family stories circulated...and were repeated to children, just as innocent Santa Claus stories were repeated to children.

I'm not saying your grandfather or his parents lied, but I hate giving bad news to people when they really really want to find native blood. Maybe that's why I rarely do this any more, but I'll be happy to get you started in your search, and I wish you the best of luck on finding the truth.
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Old 02-07-2014, 09:30 AM   #19
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Quote:
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I have a subscription to Ancestry.com and have been doing research for years. I don't like to use other people's tree info as a lot of them don't have any citations to back up their information. I normally rely on census records. Because of discrimination against Natives I have heard that many didn't describe themselves as such on census forms. If that is the case, how do you do research Native bloodlines?

Aside from the poor record keep of the U.S. Census. I have one report that lists my Grand Mother as Male... SMH

There were a lot of cases where people hid their identity for fear of persecution. So I don't put a lot into documentation. Word of Mouth PLUS Documentaional verification is great if it is available.
I know the courthouse burned down in my Grand Mother's town and lots of Records were lost...

Not that I really trust it so much but there are Ways to have your DNA tested and they compare your DNA to various Tribal DNA and determine what Tribe your Ancestors could be from. NOT an exact science because the Control DNA might not be accurate...

Then there is the Question of if they collect DNA under the premise of genealogy all the while they are collecting DNA given Voluntarily to do god knows what with... ( Yah, I am a bit of a Conspiracy theorist)

BUT that seems to be another alternative to the census....

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