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

June 06, 2002
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Bad Information?

Q: Why should I purchase a subscription? I did a search on Albert Waldon, 1900 and learned that Albert Waldon was found in Census Microfilm Records: Illinois, 1900. The problem is that last summer I rented and diligently searched the microfilm Federal Soundex Index for Illinois 1900. No members of Albert's family, including Albert Waldon (Walden, or any other W435 spellings) could be found. My vision and patience are very good and I have experience in this kind of search. So, where did get the information? Or, is this a come on? -- Marvin

A: It is a shame that so many of us have become so cynical that we immediately assume that a company is lying or misleading individuals to get them to subscribe. The reality is that few companies that follow such practices can remain in business. Word of mouth soon gets around and people will not put any money in such companies. Of course this does not mean that, or any company for that matter, can guarantee that your Albert Waldon is in their database. However, if you do a search on Albert Waldon and the results in say that there is an Albert Waldon in the 1900 Census for Illinois, then there is such an entry and it is not, as you suggest, a come on.

The Albert Waldon in question in the 1900 census is the first family on the page and he is living in Cook County, Illinois. He was born in July 1857 in Germany, and he immigrated in 1884. He has a wife of 18 years and four children, 2 sons and 2 daughters.

I do not know if this is your Albert Waldon, but the name on the census page, which is easy to read, is indeed Albert Waldon. Why he did not show up in your search of the Soundex I cannot say. It sounds like your search of the Soundex was thorough so perhaps the reason you didn't find him was that the individual who created the Soundex card for this family misread the surname or skipped the family completely.

While there is always the chance for disappointment when working with any record type, those you purchase from, in either CD-ROM or online databases come are covered by a money-back policy. But above all, the index entries that are listed when you do a search at list individuals that exist in the record or resource that has been indexed.

Family History in Australia

Q: My family has been in Australia since the mid 1800s. I've found many sites and some information on American web sites but nothing on Australian web sites about Australian people. Do you know of any web sites that may be of a help for me? -- Toni

A: The first place to begin your research for Australian ancestry is the Australasian-Genealogy Web site. This site offers you links to sites and databases pertinent to Australian genealogy.

You may find that the Internet offers you more informational sites, with links to sites for the Public Records Office or the Australian Archives, where you will find out more about their holdings. In the end it may be necessary to contact them by mail or to hire a professional genealogist to go there in person.

Another avenue for you would be bulletin boards and mailing lists. This will bring you into contact with others researching in Australia, many of whom live there. They will be aware of sites and resources that can aid you with your research. Start out with the Australia Genealogy Forum bulletin board here on You might also look at mailing lists elsewhere on teh Web.

You will also want to concentrate on sites specific to the locations of your ancestors in Australia. For instance, if they lived in Tasmania, you will want to investigate the AUS-Tasmania Genealogy Web site. If you haven't checked already, one place to find such sites is on Cyndi's List - Australia & New Zealand. This page has links to many sites devoted to information and data about ancestry in Australia and New Zealand.

1930 Census

Q: I am new to this and would like to know what information I will find in the 1930 census? What I am trying to do is trace the Whiteleys. I have my father's death and his place of birth and date, my grandfather's name and his place of death and date. Are there ways to find what I need with my computer? -- James

A: The 1930 census was just recently released by the federal government. In the United States there is a 72-year privacy law that prevents the releasing of census records until 72 years after they were taken. The 1940 census will not be released until 2112.

The 1930 census asked 32 questions:

  • Place of abode (4 questions)
    • street name
    • house number
    • number of dwelling in order of visitation
    • number of family in order of visitation
  • Name of individual (1 question)
  • Relationship to head of household (1 question)
  • Home Data (4 questions)
    • home owned or rented
    • value of home or monthly rental
    • radio set in the home
    • if the family lives on a farm
  • Personal description (5 questions)
    • sex
    • color or race
    • age at last birthday
    • marital condition
    • age at first marriage
  • Education (2 questions)
    • whether attended school
    • whether able to read and write
  • Place of birth (3 questions)
    • place of birth of person
    • place of birth of father
    • place of birth of mother
  • Mother tongue of foreign born (1 question)
  • Citizenship (3 questions)
    • year of immigration
    • naturalization status
    • whether able to speak English
  • Occupation and industry (3 questions)
    • occupation
    • industry or business in which the person worked
    • class of work (owner, employee and so forth)
  • Employment (2 questions)
    • whether or not employed on March 31, 1930
    • if not employed line number on the unemployment schedule
  • Veterans(2 questions)
    • whether a veteran of U.S. military or naval forces
    • if yes, what war or expedition
  • Number on farm schedule (1 question)

In terms of finding your ancestors in the census, it is important to note that only twelve states were indexed using the Soundex system. All other states must rely on other avenues before turning to the census pages themselves. You can find information though about enumeration districts and how to locate the right enumeration district for your family by visiting the NARA 1930 Census Microfilm Locator which will give you more information about the 1930 census.

If you haven't already, check with your local genealogy library to see if they are getting part or all of the 1930 census on microfilm. The Family History Library is getting it, though the film numbers are not yet available on the Family History Library Catalog. To order them to your local Family History Center, you may have to request that you local Family History Center call Salt Lake City to get the necessary microfilm numbers.

Recording Dit Names in Genealogy Software

Q:I understand what a "dit" name is, what I need to know is the proper or best way to enter into Family Tree Maker. It doesn't seem to work putting it into the AKA box since you can't locate it easily. If you put it into the regular name, do you put it in the middle of the name, i.e. Pierre dit Alacin Landry or at the end of the name, i.e. Pierre Landry dit Alacin? Or is there another way altogether? -- Lynnette

A: Generally you will want to record your ancestor's name as you find it in the records. So if he was Pierre Landry dit Alacin in the records, that is how I would record it. Of course, when recording such a surname, you must let Family Tree Maker, and most other genealogy software programs, know what words are the surname. In the case of Family Tree Maker, this is done by surrounding the words with back slashes. So you would type in Pierre \Landry dit Alacin\ to show Family Tree Maker to index Pierre under L. The easiest way to determine how any genealogy software wants you to enter information is to search the online help in the program.

Dit names of course do often change. The dit name may become the surname on its own or the order of the two names may switch, so it is possible to find Pierre listed as Pierre Alacin dit Landry. Should you find alternate names for Pierre, you will want to record them as well. In Family Tree Maker this is easily done. In the More About Facts, you simply select the Name fact and type in the alternate name. The AKA is a good field for nicknames rather than alternate names or spellings. Remember to select one of the Name facts as your preferred name for use in various reports.

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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