“Second-Chance Census”

The current issue of New York Archives (the magazine of the Archives Partnership Trust, [available in the Local History & Genealogy Division]) contains an important article for anyone interested in using local copies of census records, state or federal. It demonstrates that there are often discrepancies between the federal records available on-line and the records found at local county records repositories.

“Second-Chance Census” by Roger D. Joslyn should be on your must-read list!

However, there is one caveat. The article cites the guide to local census locations, “New York State Census Records, 179-1925” (Bulletin 88) published by the State Education Department in 1988. The guide can be downloaded from the State Library website as a pdf document. Go to http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/scandocs/nyscensus.htm.

That guide was compiled prior to the the implementation of the 1988 records management law at the county level. Most of the county copies of census records are listed as being in the custody of County Clerks. While they may still be Clerk’s records, the local copies of census records are actually located in the county records centers. In the case of Ontario County, that means that they are in a different building, several miles away from the County Clerk’s office, in a different town.

Check with your local County Clerk, County Historian, or Records Management Officer before checking out the census records in person! It will save time and reduce your parking frustrations.

In many counties, census and other records are available in digital format on-line.

In any case–as the article advocates–compare the available census versions to get the best information.

Preston E. Pierce, MLS, EdD
DHP Regional Archivist
Rochester Regional Library Council

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Published in: on April 23, 2014 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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