Saturday, December 30, 2006

1930 census anomaly in Ancestry index

I've been rummaging around in the census records on for most of the day - having fun trying to find the families of my brother-in-law's significant other.

I'm looking for the family of Robert Leroy Thompson (born 1880, probably in TN) and Lillian Russell (Daniels) Thompson (born 1900, in TN), who have children Gertrude, Lois and Dorothy. Lois was born in 1926 in Kingsport, Sullivan County, TN.

You would think that a name like Robert Thompson would not be easily messed up, but I've used all my tricks to try to find him in northeastern TN (and also in TN, VA and NC) without success.

One thing I noticed, that I don't recall noting previously, is that the birthplace of children in a family is not indexed by Ancestry. If I input Lois Thompson into Ancestry in the 1930 census, and put a birthplace of Tennessee and a birth year of 1926 +/- 2 years, I get no hits. If I take out the birthplace, I get 161 hits. Strange - because the birthplace is listed for every child, but it was not indexed, at least in the states I checked. The birthplace of parents and other adults are indexed, it seems.

Sometimes you can put in too much information and when you get no hits you think "well, they just aren't there."


Sharon said...

The same is true for the "Race" field in 1930. Works for Head-of-house Only. And that limitation is not noted on the search form as the birthplace field is, even if it is unclear.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this valuable tip!
I must have wasted hours without this information.

I'm glad I found your blog (via

George Geder

"Guided by the Ancestors"