A Different Approach Story

I always enjoy it when someone shares with me a different research approach that has helped them to break through a genealogical brick wall. It definitely helps me become a better researcher.  For that reason, I thought I would share an interesting success story that I encountered recently.
I was asked by someone this week to help her find a family in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census.  After exhausting all the advanced search options on Ancestry.com, she needed another approach. We decided to try to find the family by their address. However, the woman didn’t know what the family’s street address was in 1940, only that they lived in Brooklyn. To get the street address we went to the New York Public Library’s online Brooklyn 1940 telephone directory at http://directme.nypl.org/. Unfortunately, the surname wasn’t listed in the Brooklyn telephone directory, as not everyone had a telephone back then.  We had to find other avenues of research.
Finally some good news appeared, namely that the head of household was in his 50s in 1940, and therefore he was listed in Ancestry.com database U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942. This database consists of the World War II draft cards for older men in the age range of 45-65 (World War II draft cards for younger men are not available yet), and provides the address at which they live. Using that address and Stephen Morse’s (www.stephenmorse.org) 1870-1940 Large-City ED finder, we found the potential enumeration district number of interest. Moving on to the Ancestry.com 1940 census index page, we used the enumeration browse function on the right side of the page. I couldn’t believe our luck when we found the family on the very first census page for the enumeration district.  It is very nice to have a challenge that forces you to approach a problem differently, and it is especially rewarding when you are successful.  It made my evening.

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