Census records around the world

When I am doing workshops on Critical Family History, I often work with people whose parents were immigrants, or who themselves are immigrants. What kind of census records are available from around the world? The answer is: More than you might think, and more than I thought until I sat down to take a close […]

Critical Family History and Sundown Towns

Christine: I am having a conversation with James W. Loewen, author of many well-known books including Lies my Teacher Told Me and Teaching What Really Happened. We are talking about critical family history and sundown towns. Jim, I didn’t know I had grown up in a sundown town until I read your book Sundown Towns. I […]

Family History and Gender

What does an analysis of family history and gender reveal for a specific time period, geographical location, social class status, and racial/ethnic community? Writing in 1990 about “Beyond Separate Spheres: Feminism and Family Research,” Myra Ferree wrote, “Gender theory explains how specific behaviors and roles are given gendered meanings, how labor is divided to express gender […]

Mining the Census for African Americans

There are several guides and tools on the web to help locate African American ancestors. The website MySlaveAncestors offers some fairly specific guidance for people who are new to doing this work. Since the guidance on that website applies tools in this blog to the search for African American ancestors, I decided to try to trace […]

Can Census Data Reveal Racism in Employment?

Recently I was asked whether opportunities were any better for European immigrants in the late 1800s than for freed African Americans in the North. The asker of the question assumed that after the Civil War, opportunities had evened out. I wanted to examine this question with data, and do so specifically with relationship to my own […]

Racial Categories in the Census

A clear example of the social construction of race are the racial categories in the census.  When sifting through the U.S. census to construct family trees and portraits of ancestors’ neighbors, you will notice that people are always classified by race. You may be tempted to believe that means something fixed, decade after decade. In fact, however, […]

Census Data Show Housing Patterns

Many people, especially white people, assume families generally live wherever they choose and can afford, and have done so for generations. Actually census data show housing patterns — using U.S. Census data, you can examine assumption about who lives where. You may discover patterns you hadn’t anticipated. Take a census page that includes someone in your family tree. […]

U.S. Census Data

Many tools, databases, and repositories are available for family history research, and for historical context research. In most cases, U.S. Census data is the best place to start, both for information about your ancestors, and also for contextual information about who lived around them. On census records, you can find out not only the names […]

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