TMG: Citing the 1940 US Census

Here is an interesting thread from the The Master Genealogist mailing list on RootsWeb.

The technical as well as the philosophical aspects are considered by the members of the list when handling the newest major information source for genealogists of all stripes.


Alaskans Tackle the 1940 Census

Photograph of monument to first settl...

Whilst looking for items for a forthcoming series, I came across this article in the Fairbanks newspaper. It details a number of interesting points about the then-upcoming 1940 United States Census. What is interesting is that the two enumerators discussed had a long lead time to get to their enumeration districts and a very long route to travel.

The following is an extract, but I’d be happy to email a digital copy of the full article to anyone who wants one.

Alba To Go 2,500 Miles for Census

Goddard to Travel 1,750 and Both Routes Believed To Be Longest in Nation

What is believed to be the longest route under the American Flag for a census enumeration will be traversed by Frank Alba, pioneer Alaskan, who has been named as enumerator for five adjoining districts in Interior Alaska. He will cover a distance of 2,500 miles using a dog team and sled, and having the help of a driver.

Mr. Alba will start on his work this week and finish it by next April. He will fly from this city to Nulato within a few days. There he will be starting his census enumeration.

Goddard in Lower Kuskokwim

Leaving Fairbanks on the same plane that will take Mr. Alba to Nulato will be William F. Goddard, who will go to Bethel on the Kuskokwim. He is enumerator for three districts in the Lower Kuskokwim country, including Goodnews Bay. He will cover a route of not fewer than 1,750 miles, and will do his traveling with a dog team.

Mr. Goddard’s route probably is the second longest route in the work of census enumeration.

Both Mr. Alba and Mr. Goddard have their homes in this city.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska Territory, 6 November 1939, page 4, columns 1–2.


Map of USA with Alaska highlighted and shown i... focuses, obviously, on matters Alaskan.

The site has a clean design, clearly presenting the categories of links that it hosts, and minimal irrelevant advertising.

The most valuable links are in the archives, cemeteries, census, and immigration categories. The rest of the links are to sites that cover a broader array of topics, or are under construction. Alaska is a huge state but with a shorter history and fewer people living there than most. The information for some of the categories and topics may simply not be available online.

There is a bit of background for each category that explains what’s there, but these descriptions could go a bit more in depth to tell readers more about why the included links are relevant. Linking to a message board on for information about a topic is a sure way to lead a new or less-experienced genealogist into a site they may not be able to navigate as easily. The content on the message boards is probably not what they are looking for, anyway.

Some of the links are broken, but that happens all the time on the Internet. The AlaskaGenealogy site seems to be a one-person project, and one person can only do so much with so many links at once. They do ask for additions, updates, and corrections, which means they care about their content.

I like the site and have added it to my list.

© 2011 N. P. Maling – Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Professional Genealogy Project Management

For a professional genealogist, project management is a process of determining what can be done for a client within the boundaries of time, scope, and cost. Performance of the genealogist is measured by these variables in the terms of the contract with the client.

The specifics of a project are those laid out in the initial contact with a client. They must be molded into a project with realistic, attainable goals, with measurable results in a time-limited fashion.

For instance, if a client asks that a genealogist find the birth record of John Smith in Oklahoma, in the 1920s, then the genealogist has part of the picture and can give the client some idea of the scope of the project. How long it will take to do the search, however, is difficult question for the genealogist to answer. With John Smith being a common name, there are likely to be several of them in Oklahoma, especially during the early days of the territory and state. Time and cost become factors here due to the number of records to be searched. The more information a client can give about the particular John Smith they are interested in, the better.

Consulting with the client, some of these questions might be answered with more data, such as parent and sibling names. A more accurate estimate of the time and cost a research project may take is possible with more information.

Initially reviewing the information provided by the client is billable time, however, and the client must be made aware of this fact. Reviewing a client’s information limits the amount of real, new research that can be done by the genealogist. The time and performance of the contract is affected by these limits, as well.

Determining the scope of the research within the period of the research request is one other item a genealogist and client must consider when beginning a project. Are primary, original, and direct records available? Are there alternative record sources available if primary, original, and direct records do not exist?

In the John Smith example, if the subject person were born before Oklahoma became a state, some territorial records may exist in the form of census records. The 1900 U. S. census, for instance for the territory would include, most likely, at least the month and year of a person’s birth. The census may also give the genealogist and client with the actual birthplace, other than Oklahoma territory, where the person was born. Mr. Smith may actually have been born in one of the states bordering the territory, or a more specific place may have been given, depending on how the enumerator completed their form.

Informing the client of the results of this preliminary research also takes time away from doing original research for the client. Analysis of the found data, report writing, and administrative tasks are also billable time for the professional. The client must also know this so they are not surprised by the limited amount of information provided in the time allotted for researching a project.