Thursday, July 26, 2012

Checking Out the Search - Post 1: U.S. Census Records

I couldn't resist subscribing to because it's an excellent bargain for the money - see my post Debuts - A Pretty Good Deal.  

Note:  The FindMyPast home page that lists the "Pioneer Offer" says (in very small and light print)  "This offer can be discontinued at our sole discretion at any time. Please check the web site to see if the offer still stands."

Chris Paton, on the British GENES blog, in US FindmyPast Pioneer sub offer, noted that persons not in the USA can take advantage of this offer, and one reader noted:

"A UK based reader has just let me know via Twitter that she has taken up the subscription, and was told on the site that the offer expires today July 26th - if so, you need to get in fast folks! (With thanks to Lynn Heiden)'

So, today, 26 July (time unknown...anyone know?) may be the last day to subscribe with the "Pioneer Offer."  

After subscribing, I checked all U.S. records for my grandfather, Lyle L. Carringer (1891-1976) who resided in San Diego, California all of his life. Here was my process:

1)  Here is the Home page (

2)  2)  On the Home page, I clicked the "Search Records" button and put 'Lyle' (name variants checked) and 'Carringer' (name variants unchecked) name in the search box fields and chose a year range from 1900 to 1940:

3)  After clicking on the green "Search" button, I received 21 matches to my search request:

The 21 search matches included the 1920 and 1940 U.S. Census entries for my grandfather, but not the 1900, 1910 or 1930 U.S. Census search entries.  I will discuss these later in the post.

4)  I ran my mouse over the "green "View this Record's Transcription" icon (on the right-hand margin) and a popup window showed me:

5) I clicked on the "View This Record's Transcription" icon and a full transcription of Lyle Carringer, plus a list of all household members and a map, appeared:

6)  I clicked on the green "Image" button at the top of the page above to see the 1920 U.S. Census image (two images):

The full census page image, and the preview information, for Lyle Carringer are provided.

7)  The user can zoom in (magnify) the census page image to see more detail very clearly - here is the maximum zoom in I saw:

8)  The user can click on the blue "Download" button to save the image to their computer system or a flash drive.

The file size for this particular image is 4.604 megabytes.  The image I downloaded today is 1.428 megabytes.

9)  I found no Source Citation for this 1920 U.S. Census record - no indication of the NARA Microfilm Publication, Roll Number, ED number, page number, line number, dwelling number, family number, or street address.  I expect that all historical record providers will provide this type of information, and in a perfect record provider world will provide a complete source citation for the record in a standard format that I can copy and paste into my genealogy software program.

10)  My observations from performing this search include:

*  The search fields are limited - only first name (with variant name check box), last name (with variant name check box), Search dates (minimum and maximum), "Collections from" (All, United States,United Kingdom, Australasia, Ireland) and "Optional Keywords."  I did not explore the "Optional Keywords" feature yet, but I will soon.

*  There are Filters on the left-hand side of the Search match fields.  In the 1920 U.S. Census case, the Filters included different U.S. States, different Record Sets (in this case, census years), County,  Birth Year (with ranges up to +/- 40 years) and City/Township.  This is where the searcher can narrow the search!  It is not self-evident to a new searcher, IMHO.  The Filters for County and City/Township don't seem to work consistently - I was easily frustrated by them.

*  Wild Cards can be used for the Name fields - I tried multiple wild card characters, three, two and one surname letter, and everything worked, although the search returned more records for each permutation.

*  The Search seems pretty fast, and loading the transcriptions and images are also pretty fast. I didn't see any way to stop a Search in progress, however.

11)  I did find name variants for Lyle in the 1900, 1910 and 1930 U.S. Census records on FindMyPast:

*  1900:  Name indexed as"Lyle Caninger" (indexed on as "Lyle Caninger")

*  1910:  Name indexed as "Layle Carringer" (indexed on as " Layle Carringer")

*  1930:  Not found (indexed on as "Lyle Carringer")

That's as far as I want to go with this specific record and analysis.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Becky Thompson said...

I was able to subscribe at noon (Colorado) today. It sounds like it's a good thing I acted! I had no idea the special rate would expire so quickly.

Caroline Gurney said...

You might want to contact FMP with regard to your point about source citations. In British genealogy we do not use the source citation format you use in the US. It is up to the person using the source to construct their own citation - a variety of different formats being equally acceptable. All we need from the data provider is information about the archive holding the original record and its call number. Since FMP is a British company, they may not realise the different system and expectations in the US.

BarbJ said...

I subscribed today as well, but ran into frustrations quite quickly. The first was when I downloaded images. The record (Irish Land Records) had 3 images, but downloaded the same image 3 times no matter what image was being viewed in the viewer.
A search on Henry Sampey came up with 37 results. But when page 3 of the results came up while paging through the results, it said "0 records found" and I could not page back. Also on that same result page, if I clicked on "Land Records" which showed 6 results, I received the "0 records found" message. So there is something wrong with the search facility. I could not find a way to contact the company for questions and the FAG was not helpful. I hope I have not wasted my $54.90.

Martin said...

You're safe now. They changed their rules.