Mining the 1880 Census Mother Lode: Insanity and Idiocy
Are you stumped because you cannot figure out your
There can be several reasons for
- Someone had poor handwriting, and you cannot
read the name.
- Only the first two initials were recorded, and
you have no idea what they stand for.
- You only knew your ancestor’s nickname, you
would not recognize his name even if you saw it.
Perhaps some of these suggestions will provide clues to help
- Ask family members to check all the records they
have that may mention your ancestor (journals, personal histories, legal
- If you find a name that is abbreviated or
illegible on a census, look for an earlier record of the same type. Maybe you will luck out and discover the full
name was recorded.
- Try city directories, church records, or
archived school records.
- Look for every newspaper obituary where your
ancestor may have been named.
- Once you have exhausted one record type, try
other records. For example, birth,
marriage, and death records give additional opportunities for the same person
to be recorded.
- Search the records for every child and sibling
to see if your ancestor’s name appears again on their records. Check the records that name parents and
- Find out if any other family members were given
the same name or if naming patterns can provide clues.
- Submit a request for research to Genealogists.com. They have created one of the largest networks of professional genealogists in the world.
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by Robin Foster © 2014, Genealogists.com. All rights reserved