8 October 2008, Vol. 11, No. 20
Table of Contents
Using RootsWeb
Genealogy Tip
Bottomless Mailbag:
Readers Write In
What’s New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
The Darkroom
You Found It
Subscriptions, Submissions,
Advertising, and Reprints
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Using Rootsweb

By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime, it's a passion."

Census Records—For Demographics or Genealogy?

Don't be fooled by thinking U.S. federal census records were created for family historians—their original purpose was for demographics. Genealogists use them now, but knowing their original purpose and knowing the questions asked and notations used can keep you from being misled.

For instance, what does "UN" or "UA" indicate regarding military service? Unknown or Unavailable? No—it indicates service with the Union Navy or Army, and that can make a world of difference.

Questions changed from decade to decade. Some items were dropped and others manipulated to unearth new details. Here is some guidance to get you started.

Marital Status or Civil Condition
Early on, newlyweds were the only ones whose length of marriage was recorded, and the only year the month of marriage was asked was 1870. By 1880, divorces, widowhood, and single status were included.

From 1900–1910, the number of years a couple had been married was enumerated, but in 1920 this was eliminated. Strangely, in 1930, the enumerator determined the age when a person had first married.

That's quite a different issue, and it didn't matter if one was on a second or third marriage—the enumerator just recorded the age at first marriage. So what was the point? From a demographic standpoint, as more women worked or attended college, they were less likely to marry high school sweethearts! Luckily some records show M1 or M2, indicating first or second marriage.

Information enumerated, by census year and column number:

  • 1850 and 1860. Columns 10 and 11, respectively: Whether married within the year
  • 1870. Column14: If married within the year, the month (Jan., etc.)
  • 1880. Column 9: Civil Condition Single; Column 10: Civil Condition Married; Column 11: Civil Condition Widowed, Divorced; Column 12: Whether married during the census year
  • 1890. Column 7: Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced; Column 8: Whether married during the census year (June 1, 1889, to May 31, 1890)
  • 1900. Column 9: Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced; Column 10: Number of years of present marriage
  • 1910. Column 8: Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced; Column 9: Number of years of present marriage
  • 1920. Column 12: Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • 1930. Column 14: Marital condition; Column 15: Age at first marriage

Some abbreviations you will see relating to military information include "UN" for Union Navy; "UA" for Union Army; "CA" for Confederate Army; "CN" for Confederate Navy; "CW" for Civil War; "SP" for Spanish American War; and "WW" for World War I.

In 1910, column 30 recorded whether someone was a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy. In 1920, the question wasn't posed, but in 1930, column 30 noted veterans of the U.S. military or naval forces mobilized for any war or expedition (with a Y or N), and column 31 indicated the war/expedition. Interestingly, a number of Civil War veterans survived, along with veterans of the Spanish American War and the Great War.

In addition, in 1890 a special census was enumerated to assist with pension requests granted to veterans or widows. Only those with disabilities were eligible, and it didn't include confederates. Much of this special census schedule is missing—only records from Kentucky and Wyoming remain. However, if you are lucky enough to have an ancestor recorded, there are a number of important items included.

Information enumerated, by column number:

  • Columns 1 and 2: The house and family number
  • Column 3: Name of surviving soldiers, marines, and widows
  • Columns 4 and 5: Rank and Company
  • Column 6: Name of regiment or vessel
  • Columns 7 and 8: Date of enlistment and discharge
  • Column 9: Length of service
  • Column 10: Post office address
  • Column 11: Disability incurred

Citizenship and Naturalization
Over the decades, questions were expanded from place of birth to information about parents and native languages.

Information enumerated, by census year and column number:

  • 1850. Column 9: Place of birth, naming the state, territory, or country
  • 1860. Column 10: Place of birth, naming the state, territory, or country
  • 1870. Column 10: Place of birth, naming the state, territory, or country; Columns 11 and 12: Parentage of father and mother of the foreign born; Column 19: Constitutional Relations—Male citizens of U.S. of 21 years of age and upwards; Column 20: Male citizens of U.S. of 21 years of age and upwards where right to vote is denied on other grounds than rebellion or other crimes
  • 1880. No related information enumerated
  • 1890. Column 33: Number of years in the U.S.; Column 14: Whether naturalized; Column 15: Whether naturalization papers have been taken out
  • 1900. Column 13: Place of birth of this person; Column 14: Father; Column 15: Mother; Column 16: Year of immigration to the U.S.; Column 17: Number of years in the U.S.; Column 18: Naturalization
  • 1910. Same as 1900, but recorded on Columns 12 through14; Column 15: Year of immigration to the U.S.; Column 16: Whether naturalized or alien
  • 1920. Column 13: Year of immigration to the United States; Column 14: Naturalized or alien; Column 15: If naturalized, year of naturalization; Columns 19 and 20: Place of birth/mother tongue of person; Columns 21 through 24: Father and mother
  • 1930. Columns 18 through 20: Place of birth of person, father, and mother; Column 21: Language spoken in home before coming to the United States; Column 22: Year of immigration to the U.S.; Column 23: Naturalized or alien;  Column 24: Whether able to speak English

In addition, census records often report addresses, literacy, occupations, and property values. Each decade was different, so do your research carefully.

I recommend RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees Number 9, which details the index system, official dates of enumeration, and pitfalls in interpreting and locating data.

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Genealogy Tip
By Mary Harrell-Sesniak
"Genealogy is not just a pastime, it's a passion."
Tagging Photographs
There is no universal standard for organizing photos, so most people develop their own methods. But one idea is to use Windows Vista to apply tags. (Note: Windows XP does not have a tagging option, but you can add details and keywords to your photos.) My husband's family originated from Poland, so I give items from his collection the "Poland" tag. And photos pertaining to specific surnames or locations receive the appropriate surname and location tags as well. It doesn't matter where images are stored; you can use "Search" or "Find" to locate them.

When you download pictures from your camera you'll be prompted to add tags, but you can always add them later if you chose not to then.

To add a tag to a photograph in Windows Vista, go to the image's properties, either by right-clicking the name of the photograph, or by finding Properties from the File or Organize menu. Then proceed to Tags under the Details tab. Click in the field and enter your tag. If that doesn't work, press F2 and you should be able to proceed. Select Apply when through. (If you use Windows XP, right-click the name of the photograph and click "Properties," then "Summary" to add some details and keywords.)

Add a tag to a picture in Windows Vista by going to the "Details" tab in the
"Properties" box.

Add details to a picture in Windows XP by going to the "Summary" tab in the "Properties" box.

In addition to tags, there are a number of useful attributes you can modify. My favorites are the author's name and the date the picture was acquired, but you can also designate the date a photo was taken or a copyright. And if you are wondering what resolution an image was taken at, you can see this plus a number of additional details. Windows Help has detailed instructions on tags, which may give you more ideas.

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My Udell Family

Last summer I received an e-mail from a woman named Pauline in Australia who said she had seen my query on a RootsWeb message board posted in 2000 and believed we were related. My birth name was Udell and her maiden name was also Udell. We exchanged information and pictures and determined that we were first cousins. I had found my birth family in England but didn't know when or how they arrived in the U.S.A. My Grandfather Udell immigrated to Australia. Later he and my birth mother came to the U.S.A., leaving two sons and an estranged wife in Australia. My cousin is the daughter of one of these sons. She gave me the missing information I wanted about my birth mother and her family. Thanks to RootsWeb I finally found all my roots. I was eighty years old when I got my computer and searched for the information that I received seven years later when Pauline saw my message.

Harriet Cobb Burch
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Bottomless Mailbag: Readers Write In
A Message Board Success
I am happy to have the opportunity to tell the whole world how much I appreciate several people who took the time to come to my rescue.  I have been looking for my son-in-law's family for years. His father died when he was young and he does not have any information from the family. Three people answered my plea and all went far beyond what I would ever have asked, to help me find records and to refer me to others who could help also. I am most grateful. 
Frances Muckelroy
Backing Up the Old Way

There are many ways in which computer files can become inaccessible. A good backup is to print out important files. It only takes a pair of eyes to read printed matter.

Woody Thomas
Naples, New York

Sad Census Musings

I was recently transcribing some old records that dealt with the buying and selling of young coloured children to slave owners in the Southern States of the U.S. I had difficulty transcribing these records as I thought of these poor children actually being sold for $25 each. Even more sad was that many had no known names, only a number.

Bob Rubie
Witham, Essex UK

Have a story, question, genealogy resource, or tip you'd like to share with RootsWeb Review readers? Send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

Editor's note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the editor or of RootsWeb.com.

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Request a Search for Your Ancestors
at the World's Largest Genealogical Library

ANCESTOR SEEKERS researchers at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City will search this vast collection for your ancestors from the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Ireland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and other European countries. Friendly service, affordable prices.

For a no-obligation research assessment visit AncestorSeekers.com.

Or join us February 22–27 for our Eleventh Salt Lake City Research Trip—the dream genealogy vacation!

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What's New: Databases, Freepages, and Mailing Lists
New User-contributed Databases at RootsWeb

Ireland, Dublin South. Kennedy Births, Dublin, Ireland, 1882-1886, 200+ records. Contributed by Colette O'Rorke.

Submit Your Genealogical Data to a RootsWeb Database.

New/Updated Freepages by Individuals
Sherring and Parry Families, a website dealing with the Sherrings in Somerset and Dorset, England, and NSW, Australia. This website also deals with the Parry family from London, England, and from NSW, Australia.

If you have a new or substantially revised freepage at RootsWeb and would like to see it mentioned here, send the URL, the title, and a BRIEF description, including major surnames, to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

If your genealogy- or history-related site is located somewhere other than RootsWeb, you can add the link to RootsWeb here.

Request a Freepage (Free Web Account).

New/Updated Freepages by Counties, States, and Historical Societies

ALHN = American Local History Network
DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
SUVCW = Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
SCVCW = Sons of Confederate Veterans of the Civil War
UDC = United Daughters of the Confederacy
WGW = WorldGenWeb


  • aldibdar — d'Iberville Chapter (AL) DAR
  • alhunts — Hunt's Spring Chapter (AL) DAR
  • cofctdar — Friday's Council Tree Chapter (CO) DAR
  • flmanat2 — Manatee County (FL)
  • gasuvcw — Georgia/South Carolina Department SUVCW
  • idlgfdar — Lt George Farragut Chapter (ID) DAR
  • idwashin — Washington County (ID) USGenWeb
  • kyscoths — Scott County (KY) Historical Society
  • mesphs — Stockton Springs (Maine) Historical Society
  • mijackgs — Jackson County (Michigan) Genealogical Society
  • mitanhgs — Then and Now (Michigan) Historical and Genealogical Society
  • mnlacssm — Luxembourg American Cultural Society of Southern Minnesota
  • ncdavhgs — Davie County (NC) Historical and Genealogical Society
  • nycjtsuv — Cpl. James Tanner Camp 134 (NY) SUVCW
  • nyfulhis — Fultonville (NY) History
  • nymccscv — Miss Constance Cary Camp 1913 (NY) SCVCW
  • rlwpcgs — West Pasco County (FL) Genealogical Society
  • scrmcdar — Rebecca Motte Chapter (SC) DAR
  • tnwash — Washington County (TN) ALHN
  • txafamhp — Texas African American Historic and Preservation Foundation
  • txasjudc — Albert Sidney Johnston 2060 Chapter (TX) UDC
  • txhchudc — Henry C. Hancock Chapter #2364 (TX) UDC
  • vachcdar — Cobbs Hall Chapter (VA) DAR
  • vaopcdar — Overwharton Parish Chapter (VA) DAR


  • espmadar — Espana Chapter (Madrid, Spain) DAR
  • nswtweed — Richmond-Tweed, New South Wales, (AUS) WGW
  • nswnorth — North, New South Wales, (AUS) WGW
  • nswmidnc — Mid-North Coast, New South Wales, (AUS) WGW
  • nswfwest — Far West, New South Wales, (AUS) WGW
  • qchcn — Quebec, Haute-Côte-Nord CanGenWeb

Some of these Web pages might not be accessible yet. They are created by volunteers, so if one that interests you isn't up yet, please check again in a few days or next week.

Note that the ~[tilde] before the Web account name is required.
For example, the Henry County (Kentucky) Historical and Genealogical Society website is at www.rootsweb.com/~kysfbc

Request a Freepage (Free Web Account).

New Mailing Lists

New Surname Mailing Lists

New Regional Mailing Lists

  • AUS-VIC-HISTORY — A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest in the history of Victoria, Australia.
  • SAMOA-NEW-ZEALAND — A mailing list for anyone with a genealogical interest in Samoa, New Zealand, and nearby islands.

New Ethnic or Special Interest Mailing Lists

  • FAMILY-RECIPES — A mailing list for sharing family recipes. Anyone can share any type of recipe, whether it's been passed down from one or many generations of your family.
  • ISFHWE — A mailing list for members of the International Association of Family History Writers and Editors to share news, information, questions, and ideas about family history writing in any form with each other.
  • IGS — A mailing list for members of the Iowa Genealogical Society to share ideas and discuss issues.

  • KNOX-DNA — A mailing list for sharing information regarding the specific group DNA testing that is currently being done by the descendants of those bearing the Knox surname and its variations.

  • PANCHO-VILLA-EXPEDITION — This list is for finding U.S. soldiers who fought in the U.S. Cavalry and who were sent as part of the "Punitive Expedition of Pancho Villa 1916-1917," in the United States and Mexico.

To find or subscribe to a mailing list, or to search archived posts to more than 30,000 RootsWeb-hosted genealogy mailing lists, go here.

Request a Mailing List.

The Darkroom

My grandfather, William HenryVidler, is seated on the front right. A member of the 11th Battalion, Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment), he was killed in action on 26 July 1917, at age 41. He is buried in the Bedford House Cemetery a short distance from Ypres.

Submitted by Graham Vidler

For a chance to see your ancestor's photo in the RootsWeb Review, send it to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com. Make sure to include your name and a brief description of the photograph.

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You Found It
Joe Blow?

Some years ago, I was looking at English census data from the northern part of Lincolnshire, looking for my Metcalf and Stamp ancestors. In either the 1841 or 1851 census returns (I don't remember which), I came across a family headed by Joseph Blow (the famous "Joe Blow?").

Thanks to John Metcalf
Dead or Alive?

I found this extract from a September 2008 obituary in the "Washington Post," with my emphasis added. This could have medical, and maybe religious, significance:

"Oliver Madden ... is also survived by his sisters [names 4 sisters], brother [name], and the late Thomas Madden."

I would love to know the current status of Thomas.

Thanks to Richard Larkin

Found a funny name or humorous tidbit in old records, or an amusing entry in census, parish, church, or other records? Send these and other genealogy-related humor/humour items to Editor-RWR@rootsweb.com.

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Permission to reprint articles from RootsWeb Review is granted unless specifically stated otherwise, provided:

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  2. the following notice appears at the end of the article: Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 8 October 2008, Vol. 11, No. 20