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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

July 18, 2002
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Clues from 1881 English Census Index

Q: Is there a way to tell from census files if people are related (perhaps from the folio numbers or pro ref.)? I have the 1881 census on CD-ROM, but my ancestors were married and living apart. How can I tell if they are brothers? -- Joyce

A: One of the benefits of the British census is that you are given the place of birth for each individual. Unlike the U.S. census, this is more than just the state of birth. Instead you are given the town and the shire in England where they were born.

Since folio numbers are just the page of the census upon which the family is found, you can't use those to assume a relationship. Still, this situation does bear further research.

The next step would be a search of the family in various compiled databases, such as World Family Tree to see if anyone has submitted the family tree. This would give you a working hypothesis and may supply potential parents as well.

Generally when I find someone listed in the 1881 census and I am trying to make a connection, though, I turn my attention to the parish records. Although civil registration began in 1837, you will often find that parish records continue beyond that and are available on microfilm, so you can order them to your local Family History Center. Sometimes you will find that a volume is indexed.

Look not only for the individual you know is yours but also for those you suspect to be siblings of your ancestor. In the parish baptisms you will find that the full name of the father along with the given name of the mother and the occupation of the father are listed, as is the place of residence at the time of baptism. Also, check into the nonconformist records as well. Housed in London, they are phenomenal in that they list not only the father's full name, but also his wife's given name and then lists who her father is as well. In fact I sometimes almost hope to find myself working in the nonconformist records for that reason.

The place of birth is a big key, and really the only clue you can take from the 1881 census information. You may need to look into earlier census records. Since they are not indexed, you may need to go line by line in search of the family. However if you do not know the parents' names this may not be an option at this stage in your research.

Source Citation vs. Master Source

Q: I am having trouble understanding how to use "Source Citation" and "Edit Master Sources" in my family history software. I have lots of documented information to input and hesitate to do it until I understand how to do it correctly. Do I enter the information in both areas? -- Marilyn

A: Most genealogy programs, including Family Tree Maker, are using a master library of sources. They understand that we often find more than one piece of information in a source and, as such, are likely to need to cite that source more than once. In Family Tree Maker this is done using the "Source Citation" with and the "Master Source" window as well.

As you are typing information into Family Tree Maker and you select Source from the View menu or press the CTRL-S hot key, the Source Citation dialog box opens. Here you can type in the title of the source. As soon as you do that, the Edit Master Source push button is activated. The Master Source is where you record the information that will never change, such as the publication data about the book, the author's name. Once you have filled in this information and clicked OK, you can then use the Source Citation dialog box to list that information that does change, for example the page number upon which you found the birth date or death date you just entered.

At the bottom of the Source Citation dialog box you will see a footnote field. Here Family Tree Maker compiles information from the Master Source window and the details you have added in the Source Citation dialog box already to create the footnote as it will print out on your reports or your Web site.

The next time you open a Source Citation dialog box to cite another fact and that fact comes from the same previously entered book, you need not type in the title of the book in the Source Citation title field. Instead, click on the Find Master Source and select the book from the list of sources. Then use the Source Citation dialog box to complete the source citation with the appropriate page number for the new fact.

While you could use the Source Citation dialog box to record everything, putting it in the Citation Text field and then turning on the "Include citation text in footnote" check box, you would need to record the full source citation in each case. This defeats the purpose of using a program such as Family Tree Maker where the program is supposed to cut down on the duplication. So those items that never change should be entered into the Master Source and only that information pertinent to the fact at hand that changes would be typed into the Source Citation dialog box.

Manifest ID Numbers

Q: Can you tell me more about the information found in ship records? Specifically, if a manifest I.D. number on the same ship is the same for two individuals, does that mean they were traveling together? -- Mary

A: I am not sure what manifest ID number you are referring to. There are many numbers associated with the passenger lists. There are volume numbers, list numbers, line numbers, and more. Sometimes just when you think that you have it figured out the index used will change all the rules.

If you have found two individuals arriving on the same ship on the same day then it is obvious that they are traveling on the same ship, however, no assumptions can be made that they are traveling together. To even begin to assume this you would need to look at the original passenger list to see if they are listed together. Even this is not proof that they are traveling together, though it does give additional weight to such a hypothesis if you can show that they were associated either from the old country or once they settled in the United States.

Generally it is a dangerous practice to base any conclusions on an index only. You should always go to the original source. If the family arrived in New York between 1892 and 1924, it is possible the ship's passenger list can be located at the Ellis Island Records site. If they arrived at another time or another port, then you will need to get access to the microfilmed passenger lists. These are available through your local Family History Center. Most of the time it will only take two to three weeks at the most to get the microfilms needed from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and the nominal fee charged is used to cover the postage and handling.

Ireland to Ellis in 1859

Q: My father was told by his grandmother that the grandfather arrived at Ellis Island in 1859. He was four years old. The records for Ellis Island start in 1892. Where do you suggest I take my search since they arrived prior to the records at Ellis Island? -- Mary

A: The records of Ellis Island begin in 1892 because that is the year that Ellis Island opened. However, this is not the first processing center to have existed in New York for those passengers disembarking. Before Ellis Island, immigrants were processed at Castle Garden near Manhattan. And before Castle Garden they were processed as the ships arrived. There was no central processing center.

Passenger lists have been kept in the United States since 1820. Before this any lists that exist are often found in published volumes and have been compiled from records generated in the old country. Since your great-grandfather arrived in 1856, there are passenger lists available.

If you are hoping to find out where in the old country your great-grandfather was born from the passenger list, then you will be disappointed. At this point, passenger lists had just five columns listing the passenger's name, gender, age, occupation, and country from which he was coming. It would not be until the 1900s that the federal government would have passenger lists that asked place of birth.

I mention this limitation to the passenger lists of this time because of the energy needed to locate your great-grandfather in the passenger lists for New York. Unfortunately New York has a fifty-year gap in indexes that begin in 1846 and does not end until 1897. There are a few indexes for this gap, although they are incomplete. If your ancestor was from Germany it is possible that he appears in the Germans to America set which is available in book form or online at through their International and Passenger Record Collection.

Instead of concentrating on the passenger list, see if you can find out if your great-grandfather became a naturalized citizen. If he did, it is possible that a great deal of information may exist in his naturalization records as to the exact date of arrival and the name of the ship. You might also find that there is information as to his date and place of birth.

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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