Tips for Finding Hard to Find Families on the U. S. Census

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I had found the family I was researching on the earlier census records (1860 and 1870) with very little trouble.  So, I expected to be able to find them in the same place on the 1880 U. S. Census.  When I checked the index for the family name, they could not be located.  I even visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT to ask for their help.  Staff members were friendly and seemd to be knowledgable, but had no success.

I was sure that this family lived where I was searching, so I considered what other ideas I could come up with.

The Experiment

I decided to try searching the 1880 Census for families who had been their neighbors on previous census records.  Looking on the 1870 Census, I selected a neighbor, and typed the name in for a search of the index for 1880.  The neighbor showed up on the search, and I clicked on the link to the image of the page for that street. 

The Victory

As I looked up and down the page, I noticed a family with a similar, but different last name.  The first names of the family members were a perfect match.  Next, I checked the ages listed for each of these people.  They were a match.  Finally, I checked the birth place for each one, and this matched too.  I had found the family I was looking for! 

Your Action for Success

So, if you are not able to find someone on a census in a place where you think they should be, check their neighbors from prior census records and look up the neighbors.  Then, when you locate the census page, search up and down for your person.