IN THIS EDITION -- April 4, 2002


1930 Census: It's Finally Here!


The wait is over. The 1930 US census-all 2,667 microfilm rolls of it-is officially open for business. On April 1, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) opened its doors in Washington, DC, and in regional facilities across the country to researchers eager to get their hands on these newly released records. Professional genealogy experts and hobbyists alike stood in line for a first crack at the census 72 years after it was taken, and here's what some of them had to say:

Denver, Colo.
I found my 12-year-old father in Roberts County, SD, within five minutes because I had the enumeration district by using the finding aids last month. However, my mother was more difficult to locate. She told me she was living in Red Wing, Minn., in 1930 with her father. NARA does not have city directories for Red Wing and I had not taken the time to search local city directories prior to my census research. I decided to simply read the census line-by-line, but the results were negative. Her mother and step-father lived on a farm near Eagle Butte, SD, so I read every census page in Dewey County, SD, without success. I telephoned my mother at this point and learned that the farm was in Ziebach County. Armed with this new information, I finally located her. What an embarrassing lesson! I should have obtained land records years ago and should have known that the farm was in Ziebach County. It just proves that we never known when and how we learn our lessons in genealogy.

Kathleen W. Hinckley
Author of
Your Guide to the Federal Census

Washington, DC
It was a bright, sunny April 1 in Washington, DC, and a very important day at that. No, not April Fool's Day, but the opening of the 1930 US census for researchers. My husband, Jim, and I were fortunate in a couple of ways. First, we were in Washington working on a research project and away from our home in Minnesota where it snowed. Second, we were among those invited to an early morning reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the census opening with John W. Carlin, archivist of the United States, and representatives of the Census Bureau, including the new director, Louis Kincannon. It was very interesting to hear the stories of the personal genealogical research being done by Census Bureau staffers! But, even they did not get to see the census until April 1.

Paula Stuart Warren
Co-author of
Your Guide to the Family History Library

Many gasps of excitement were heard over and over again as the night progressed, with researchers sharing their finds with others. Excitement was the order of the night and it was easy to forget that it was the wee hours of the morning. Adrenaline ruled and most researchers never slowed their pace. Some took breathers, enjoyed the many refreshments (and coffee) provided by the NARA staff, and took time to share their successes with others. After the first hour, the volunteers had little to do because most of the patrons were buried deep in their microfilm machines reading long ago written names, ages, places, occupations, etc.

Marcia Yannizze Melnyk
Author of
The Genealogist's Question & Answer Book ( and The Weekend Genealogist (

On Monday, April 1, I woke up before God. The 1930 census was making its debut at the National Archives, and I intended to be present for the occasion. From where I live, it's a 45-minute drive to the Great Lakes branch in Chicago. The facility was open at 6:30 a.m. for self-service with staff arriving at 8 a.m. I arrived at 6:45 a.m. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but donuts, coffee cake, chocolate brownies and coffee on a display table at the front door. What a welcome! Ten people were already at the film readers.

Joseph Martin
Romeoville, Ill.

Read more about these genealogists' first encounters with the 1930 census at

If you don't live near a NARA facility, that doesn't mean you won't be able to access these important records. Check with your local public library to see if it has ordered census rolls of your area or state. The Public Library of Cincinnati will unveil Ohio's 1930 census records at its annual genealogy fair April 26, and expects to make half the states' records available by the end of July. Later next year, library officials hope to have the entire 1930 US census on microfilm.

To learn more, check out highlights from Family Tree Magazine's article on using the census at, as well as Kathleen W. Hinckley's new book, Your Guide to the Federal Census (available at your local bookstore or online at


GenForum Now Requires Registration


Before you post that next query on one of the gazillion GenForum message boards at, you'll need to register your name and contact information with If you already have an account with through one of its subscription databases, you can log in using the same name and password. If not, it's easy and free to sign up. Visit, where you'll fill in your name, address, e-mail address and other contact details. While it may seem like a pain, this new system has a couple of perks. You can now decide whether you want other GenForum visitors to see your e-mail address along with your account number, and if you change e-mail addresses, you can update your account and all your previously posted messages will be automatically updated. For more information on these changes, see


New Edition of British Isles Record Set

A major source of British ancestry records has been updated and is ready to be ordered online. The British Isles Vital Records Index: Second Edition was released last week by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This 16-disc set contains indexes of birth, christening and marriage records for 12.3 million people who lived from 1538 to 1906 in the British Isles. Order the $20 CD set at (click Order/Download Products, then Software Products, then Census and Vital Records).

Save Those E-mails


A tip from Mrs. Roy Risley:

"My mom had a computer for several years. A little over a year ago she decided to go online. I taught her how to e-mail over the telephone. I can still remember our excitement as she sent me her first message. My husband set up a file for me and saved it. Because I work, he saved e-mails from her so I could read them when I got home. I learned quickly to save my e-mails to her also. I sent her an e-mail asking her questions and she answered, 'yes, yes, no, I don't remember.' I had to go back and check the mail I sent to remember what order I'd asked the questions in! It was my 'Ma Mail' folder. Four months ago my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She was gone in less than seven weeks. My Ma Mail folder, filled with e-mails sent and received, became a wonderful treasure that I printed out on archival paper and placed in sheet protectors in a loose leaf binder. It is now a treasured part of our family history."


Collecting Family Stories


Most families have preserved stories that add life to the family history. These concern daily life; snatches of childhood memories; poignant or humorous events; and descriptions of places, things, and people.

For example, these incidents were serious to those involved but humorous to us today. Maggie was 5 in 1872 when it was strictly improper for a lady, whether 5 or 50, to speak of the body and its parts. Maggie learned a limerick from her devilish older brother and made the mistake of sharing it with her mother. Mama, being concerned about decency and feeling the need to teach Maggie a lesson about such things, washed the little girl's mouth out with soap. Of course, Maggie never forgot the limerick and handed it down to her grandchildren and beyond. The limerick was

There was a young lady named Mabel,
Who loved to dance on the table,
She blushed very red
When the gentleman said,
"Oh, look at the legs on the table."


Sue was about 7 in the early 1900s when the bishop came for Sunday dinner. Imagine the disgrace the child suffered when, at a lull in the conversation, she addressed her guest, "You wanta hear me drink like a horse?"

-Excerpted from Unpuzzling Your Past by Emily Anne Croom, $18.99. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher, Betterway Books. Available in bookstores or online at