Most genealogists are very familiar with searching Ancestry or FamilySearch for individuals in the U.S. federal census population schedule, but not as many know that they can look for people in the census by address. For 1880-1950, there is a tool that can be used to enter an address – either a street name or an exact house number – and find the census images for that address.
Why might you want to do this if you can simply search by name?
Recently, I was looking for the 1930 census entry for my 2x great grandmother, Victorine (Dupuy) Hinton. I knew that she and her husband were living on N. Drennan Street in Houston in 1929, but they were nowhere to be found in the 1930 census when searching by name, even trying multiple websites in case it was an indexing issue. ((“U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” database with images, Ancestry (http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2469 : accessed 1 June 2017), entry for Victorine Hinton, Houston, Texas, 1929; citing Morrison & Fourmy Directory Co., publishers, Houston (Texas) City Directory: 1929-1930… (Houston: Morrison & Fourmy Directory Company, 1930), entry for Hinton, Virgil F (Victorine), 968))
Using Steve Morse’s One-Step Webpages, I was able to look up the enumeration district for their street and view the census pages. This powerful tool makes it painless to find an enumeration district; even better, it links directly to the census images online.
The process is straightforward and the more information you have, the better your results will be. Below are the steps I took to determine that Victorine’s household was skipped by the enumerator in 1930.
The Enumeration District Finder Tool
Enter the Year
The ED finder tool is located at http://stevemorse.org/census/unified.html and the very first step is easy to miss: choose the correct census year. There is a dropdown menu at the very top of the page in the title that is critical to getting the correct information. If you fail to choose the proper year, the form will return results for the default year (1940).
Enter the State, County, and City
Virgil F and Victorine Hinton lived at 216 N. Drennan in Houston, Texas (Harris County), in 1929. Using the dropdown lists, I chose Texas, Harris County, and Houston (the county is optional). This will auto populate the street dropdown menu.
Select the Street
Once the street dropdown is finished populating, select the street from the dropdown menu. In my case, the address for Victorine was N. Drennan, but I wanted to be sure I did not miss any entries so I went through the process for both Drennan and N. Drennan. There are several helpful options on the resulting page that can give you additional information. Using the map options will allow you to enter the bounding streets if you know them, narrowing the results (you might need to check for changed street names). Each time you enter a bounding street it gives you another field so you can narrow it down further.
Clicking “More Details” on the main search page in the above image takes you to the One Step Enumerator Descriptions Page for that ED. The page lists information about the enumeration district and the NARA microfilm roll it is on, but more useful are the links to the same district in the surrounding census years. This can be helpful for finding out if the home who lived in the home each decade, tracking neighbors, and seeing how the makeup of the neighborhood changed over time. The page also indicates if there are any institutions in that ED, as can be seen below with the School of the Blessed Sacrament.
The links to the enumerations districts in the lower left corner on the main results page are what we are looking for. These links take you to a reults page where you can access the actual census pages. ((This may seem like an extraneous click, but the ED Finder we are using is a combination of several individual One Step tools, and the link leads to the “Viewing Census Images for the [year] Census in One Step” tool. By using this combined tool, we have actually cut out several steps.))
An image of the results page is below. You can access the images of the census pages you have specified either through Ancestry (“Display”) or FamilySearch, NARA, or the Internet Archive (“Free Display”). Because the database queries are labor intensive the actual census images will take longer than usual to load.
At this point, I simply browsed the images in the ED. Rather than scanning the surnames, I was able to browse the the street names more quickly because they often span several families. In the case of the Hintons, it was clear that despite enumerating many families on N. Drennan and Drennan streets, the household at 216 N. Drennan was skipped.
Our spreadsheet sets are a great way to record the data. When I am researching, I have a spreadsheet file for each individual I am tracking where all of their census data is in one file, along with the listings of the people before and after them; this is a good idea even where there is negative evidence. It’s amazing to see patterns emerge that let me track their FAN club over time. Let me know if this tool turns out to be helpful to you, or if there are other One Step tools on Steve Morse’s site that you have used successfully.