USGenWeb Project USGenWeb Census Project®

Census Researcher's FAQs

USGW Census Project

Hello! My name is Linda Talbott and I'm the coordinator of The USGenWeb Census Project®. You may have been forwarded to this web page because you clicked to send me an e-mail from one of the USGenWeb Census Project® web pages. Before sending an e-mail to me, please check to see if your question can be answered below. If the following information doesn't answer your questions, please contact me by typing the following email-address in an "email-message".

How do I use this web site to research my family history?
  The USGenWeb Census Project provides an online "Introduction to Federal Census Research"
  and four different ways for you to access the transcribed census data:

  1.)   On-Line Census Inventory ~ Census data transcribed by USGenWeb Census Project volunteers.
~ To view the transcription assignment status of a census or online census images.
3.)   Census Search ~ To search on-line transcriptions for a specific name. A search box is found on the bottom of State/County page.
4.)   Or, you can browse through the stes from here:

I didn't find the information I needed. What should I do now?

  If the census information you are looking for hasn't been transcribed yet, you may want to find a volunteer to do a "Census Lookup" for you. The Census Project does not do lookups since we are too busy working to get the census transcriptions on-line. Here are two web sites which may be helpful:
  • CENSUS-LOOKUP Message Board
  • CENSUS-LOOKUP Mailing Lists
  • I found my GGGrandfather in a USGenWeb Census transcription. What should I do now?
  • Some Do's and Dont's with Census Records ~ Genealogy Today
  • I've found my family group on a 1920 census page and want a print-out of just this family group. How can I print out this family group on a single page?
      There's no easy way of printing out a 1920 on one page because of the many columns it has. If you have a printer that can print landscape on legal paper you might be able to squeeze the family group on a single page.

    When we format the columns for the entire file we have to make each column wide enough so that the widest cell for that column will have just enough room to fit. Sometimes this leaves a lot of extra spaces between columns on some of the pages. If your family group has a lot of white space between columns, then you might be able to get it all to fit.

    Your best bet is to download the file (or copy/paste the one page). Open it in an ascii text editor on your PC (or a WordProcessing file), then remove all the rows that don't pertain to your family, leaving the header rows in place. Then you can remove the excess empty space between rows, keeping the remaining columns still lined up even. NOTE: if you put this in a WordProcessing file instead of a text editor, you will want to make sure to use a fixed-font like Courier so it will be easier to keep the columns lined up.

    Final steps will be to change the left and right margins to make them as small as your printer will allow and then using Print-Preview to see if it all fits. If it doesn't fit, adjust the font size making it smaller or remove some of the column information.

    How do I start tracing my family history?
  • How do I begin my genealogy? ~ Genealogy Today
  • Top Ten Genealogy Questions ~ Genealogy Today
  • Organizing the Past ~ Genealogy Today
  • How to Research the 1930 Census Microfilm ~ NARA
  • Why aren't the email addresses of the transcribers on their files in the census archives?
      We stopped including the transcriber's and proofreader's email addresses on the data files for several reasons. Many transcribers asked us to not include their email address because they were getting lookup requests for censuses that were not yet on-line and didn't want to say no, and yet didn't want to take the time to do this. Some transcribers were afraid of getting junk email and/or virus email from the email harvesters. Another reason we stopped is that so many of the transcribers were changing email addresses because of ISP problems or other reasons and the addresses were no longer valid, and frequently the transcribers would forget to let us know.

    We now include the email address so researchers will have a valid email address. Right now the email to that address goes to the Project Coordinator.

    I used the project's search engine to find my ancestor, but when I click on the results link I get an error message telling me that the file can't be found. Is there something wrong with the search engine?
      Here's an explanation of what is happening: the search-engine's "gathering" of the data is not done on a daily basis because of the massive amount of time that it takes to do the "gathering". If a file is updated after a "gathering" and its filename changes, it's address where it is saved on the server changes and the information that is in the search-engine's last "gathering" no longer can find the file. After the next "gathering" all of the information will be available again, (at least for a few minutes, until some of the files are updated again).

    The process of transcribing and proofreading a full census for a county/year takes a very long time, and when the county is large, we upload a partial transcription when a township or two are done. The index files for that census are updated, too, and frequently the FILENAMES of the index files change during this process. This problem would not happen if we would wait until an entire county is transcribed and proofread and then upload it. HOWEVER, since it takes a very long time to complete an entire county transcription, we figure the inconvenience of getting an occasional error message is something we have to contend with.

    BUT HERE IS A WORK-AROUND FOR YOU WHEN THIS PROBLEM HAPPENS. The URL in the error message shows you the ST/COUNTY/YEAR and filename. The FILENAME no longer exists and this is why you get the error message, but since you now know the ST/COUNTY/YEAR you can go to the subdirectory and manually look for the census transcription. When you get to the right subfolder all of the census files for it will be together.

    The URL for all of the census files is:

    You can also link to the census files from other web-pages:
    Online Census Inventory
    Censuses Listed by State/County/Year

    I found my ancestors listed in a census name index file. This name index file directed me to view the transcribed data file which had my ancestors' information. How do I find this census data file?
      I expect you got to the index file either as a result of a sort "hit" or from a link to the file from someone's county web-page, so it would not be evident to you how to get to the rest of the census files for that same census.

    All of the transcribed census files for one county-census-year are stored in the same folder. If you know the state, county, and census year it then becomes an easy matter to go to the folders and locate the folder you need.

    The folders start with the STATE folders. The STATE folders are named with the 2-letter state abbreviation. The COUNTY folders are under their respective state. The CENSUS-YEAR folders are under their respective county.

    So if you were looking for Blair, PA 1850, you would start with the PA folder, then double click on the BLAIR folder, then double click on the 1850 folder.

    The 2-letter state folders are at:

    There are other web pages that link to the folders and not the individual files. If you prefer clicking through web-pages rather than typing the url and clicking through the folders here are 2 web-sites:
    Online Census Inventory
    Censuses Listed by State/County/Year

    I disagree with the spelling of a name on a census transcription. How can I request a review of the census image to correct the error?   Read: Requesting a Census Transcription Change

    I'm interested in U.S. Census Statistics, nothing for genealogy purposes. Where would I go or what would I click on for that?    Read: Census Quick Facts

    Why are there two separate USGenWeb Census Projects online?   Read: Explanation.

    I would like to transcribe or proofread a census. How do I volunteer?
      To join the project as a transcriber, first check the Assignment Web Pages to see if the enumeration of your interest is available for assignment. You must obtain access to Copies of the Census that you have chosen. The Census Project does not provide the original census material to be transcribed. We will provide you with the transcription spreadsheet template or software after you Sign Up.

    Every transcriber must Find a Proofreader. You can volunteer to proofread a transcription by going to the Proofreader Exchange, filling out the form, and noting in the comments the censuses in which you are interested.

    Please report all broken web page links to the Webmaster by typing the following email-address in an "email-message". 

    If the above information hasn't answered your questions,
    please contact me by using the following email-address in an "email-message".

    Lots of luck with your research.
    It's so great to finally be able to do some of this research from our own homes!

    Linda Talbott
    The USGenWeb Census Project®

    Volunteer to Transcribe  |  Transcriber's Info  |  State Census Index  |  Site Map
    Online Census Inventory  |  The USGenWeb Census Project  |  Mortality Census Assignments

    To narrow your search results put Last Name first inside quotation marks.
    EXAMPLE "Smith, John"

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