Monday, April 18, 2016

Success! Finding Wrongly Transcribed Names on Census Records

This weekend, I was working on my Kaechle family. This German name is often misspelled, and I've even seen the initial "K" transcribed as an "R."

As I worked on this family, I discovered two families I hadn't found in the 1940 census. Both families had been in the Detroit area in 1930, and had probably been there in 1940. I tried various spellings of "Kaechle" and even tried searching for "Raechle," but I couldn't find either family.

So, I decided to try a "trick" that has sometimes worked in the past. I looked at a neighbor from the 1930 census, and then found them in the 1940 census. In BOTH cases, it worked immediately. I found both families in 1940!

Here's one of the examples:

1930 Detroit Census - Charles Kaechle highlighted yellow - Joseph Neigebauer is 3 families above Charles

Charles Kaechle (age 50) lived with his wife and mother at 3013 Gladwin Avenue, Detroit, Michigan in 1930. He couldn't be located in 1940 using the usual search methods. So, I picked a neighbor with a fairly unusual name, Joseph Neigebauer, and searched for him in the 1940 Detroit census.

1940 Detroit Census - Joseph Neigebauer highlighed yellow - Charles Kaechle is 4 families below Joseph

When I clicked on the image for Joseph Neigebauer's 1940 census record, I scrolled down a few names and saw my Charles Kaechle! It even looked spelled correctly to me. When I looked at the index to see how the name had been transcribed it listed him as Charles Jaeckle. The initial "K" hadn't been written very clearly and been transcribed as a "J," and the "h" was misread as a "k." So, the name was transcribed as Jaeckle instead of Kaechle.

This method will only work if your family didn't move between the two census recordings. Also, if you don't find your family the first time, try a few more neighbor's names. It also helps to use unusual names and people who owned, rather than rented, their homes.

If you've not tried this method, give it a try! Let me know if you find a family you hadn't been able to find using the "usual" research methods.

10 comments:

  1. This is a brilliant suggestion! It hasn't worked out (yet) for my grandfather's (and family) 1920 census, but I haven't given up yet. I'm actually having to work backward from the 1930 census (rather than forward from the 1910 census) because my grandfather purchased land and married in 1915 in a different enumeration district than his parents. Do you happen to know if there is any kind of listing for "missing" or "lost" census records, especially for the 1920 census?

    This is a tip I expect to use again and again...many thanks!

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    1. You're quite welcome! I hope it helps! I tried another one last night, and the family had evidently moved. I found the correct address, but my family wasn't living there.

      No, I don't know if there's a listing for missing or lost census records. I'm sure there are places online that would list any census records that are missing. You might try Cyndi's List.

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  2. Great suggestion, I'll have to try this.

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    1. Thanks, Anna! I don't remember where I read about it before. I've tried this technique in the past. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But, it's worth a try! Enjoy the hunt!

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  3. Dana,

    I want to let you know that two of your blog posts are listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2016/04/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-april-22.html

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks, Jana! I was just over there looking at your post & saw my post listed. :) I really appreciate it & am glad you enjoyed my post!

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  4. I know what you mean about bad transcriptions. My Pozdech family was well documented once they came to the US in 1906, but I couldn't find them in the 1920 Census. Luckily they were listed in City Directories so I used the Steve Morse website and looked them up by the address & found them. Their name had been transcribed as Paxcleigh (not even close). I never would have found them, but I will try your method on my next missing family. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Marilyn, I'm not familiar with the Steve Morse website. I just opened it up & will have to look around... thanks! Yes, sometimes the names are just horribly transcribed. My Koechle ancestors were transcribed as Boecker on the ship manifest on Ancestry! Happy Hunting!

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  5. I see so many transcription errors, especially on the census forms. Some are understandable, due to illegible writing. But a lot of times I look at the transcription and just shake my head. I'm going to try your tip on a couple of ancestors I can't seem to find a certain census for. Maybe I'll get lucky. :) Thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Tina. Best wishes on your search!

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