So, is it the right family?

One of the things that you need to understand when looking at census records is that it is quite easy to find the wrong family.  I found a whole Fisher line that was not mine! 

Census taker visits a family living in a caravan, Netherlands 1925

So I have a bit of a system that I use:

Distrust the records initially  (I found this out personally when my husband obtained his birth certificate and he found he was not who he thought he was!)

-All records contain errors
-Don't trust a single source
-Don't ignore records
-Does the information actually make sense?
-Never trust other people's trees, check their sources if there are any.
-Calculate the ages from known information and check them.
-Remember people do lie, about ages in particular.
-Always read up about the particular census you are looking at.  Enumerators were given specific instructions and that can effect what you are reading (see the previous post about English Census)

Read Each Piece of Information, and test it.
-Who is providing the information
-Who is writing the information down
-When, ie how close the the incident was the information collected.  You will find some census records written by the head of the household, others written by the census collector.
Look for alterations and corrections or carelessness on behalf of the writer-
-Is there any corroborating evidence? For instance, is there an index record for a DOB as well as what is on the census.
-If you cannot corroborate evidence, then it is likely to be wrong.  - How do you treat this as you do not want to lose possible information.  One way is to pop it into notes about a person on your program, and come back to it later when you may find more information.  Rate information, use your own scale.
-Check it on a timeline of the person, does it make sense?  If someone was in Australia in July, 1920, they could not be in England at the same time.

 Write a Proof
- Document your thinking process.
-Document your sources & examination of them
-This allows you to come back to information, but also to analyse your information.
-Write table out, with date, source & who gave the information, it will help you compare information when you have a problem.
-I have found this my best method for trying not to make too many mistakes, and when I have, I found out where.

I hope this helps you find your family (and not someone else's)  in the census records. 
Happy Hunting.!


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