In my last column, I talked about the importance of vital records. But the starting point for most family historians in authenticating family information is the US Federal Census. Although I briefly mentioned it in the past few columns, I’ll flesh it out here.
Since 1790, the federal government has had a keen interest in counting its residents (notice I didn’t say citizens), which it has done every 10 years. Of course, for most Jews, the late 1800s and early 1900s are the most pertinent censuses. Unfortunately for us, the 1890 census was tragically lost in a fire. (A few partial state lists survived, but very little for Jewish population centers.)
However, the early 1900 censuses can be very helpful.