Genealogy Notes for December Mtg.
- Notes from December 18, 2005 -- Jewish Genealogy Society of Sacramento
President Mark Heckman called the meeting to order and welcomed guests. He
introduced Vice-President Burt Hecht who noted speakers planned in the coming
Sunday, January 22 -- Joyce Buckland -- British and Canadian Censuses
Sunday, February 19 -- Barbara Leak -- "GenSmart" Software Program
Sunday, March 19 -- Round Robin -- Genealogy Questions and Answers
Monday, April 17 -- David Hoffman -- Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Treasurer Allan Bonderoff reported a balance of $680.85 in our account. He
will be sending out notices for annual dues -- $25 -- by the end of the month.
Mark noted we have a new Web domain name (thanks to Steve Kitnick for
reserving it): www.jgss.org
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Presentation by Steve Morse: "Navigating the New York Census with Fewer Tears"
Steve, who has an international reputation for developing one-step Web site
approaches such as the Ellis Island database site, honored us with a brand new
talk of his, focusing on a one-step approach to the New York state censuses
taken in 1905, 1915 and 1925. The censuses were taken for the entire state but
Steve's focus is New York City. New York City has five counties, with each
borough in general making up a county, although some with different names. The
counties are Bronx, New York (for Manhattan), Queens, Kings (for Brooklyn) and
Richmond (for Staten Island).
Census overview: The federal census has been taken every ten years since
1890. In New York state, censuses were taken between 1782 and 1814, then every
ten years between 1825 and 1875, then in 1892, and the last three in 1905, 1915
and 1925. There was also an 1890 "police census" just for Manhattan, taken
of citizens by the police. There is microfilm of the NY state censuses after
1855; most libraries have copies. They are not online.
Why are the 1905, 1915 and 1925 censuses so important? Steve says they are
the most useful and most well-preserved, taken during a time of large influx of
immigration. Five percent of the US population lived in New York City in the
early 1900s. Half of the U.S. Jewish population lived in New York City at
that time. And more than half of the arriving immigrants settled in New York
How much did the census takers earn? In 1905, they earned $2 a day and 1
cent per name. This rose in 1925 to $3/day and 2 cents per name. Each census
taker (enumerator) had two weeks to do his work, beginning June 1. Steve showed
an excerpt from a New York Times story noting that in the Russian and Italian
quarters of the Bowery, the census takers were viewed with suspicion.
Finding People in the Census:
1) Searching by name. This is only available for the Staten Island census of
1925 and a small portion of the Brooklyn 1925 census (what has been done so
far for 1925 Brooklyn is available on Steve's Web site.)
2) Searching by address: The census is not organized by address -- you have
to know the district number -- AD/ED. (More below).
In the federal censuses, there were Enumeration Districts -- areas that could
be covered by a single census taker. If you don't know the ED, you can't
find the person.
For the New York State census, they used Assembly Districts (each with the
same number of people), broken into ED -- Election Districts. Each contains one
Each polling AD/ED was assigned to one census taken; all microfilm rolls are
organized by AD/ED.
According to Steve, there are
-- AD/ED maps, but they're difficult to use.
-- Newspapers descriptions of the districts
-- Some index cards with addresses.
-- some books telling you what streets are in what district (one is available
only in the Newbury Library in Chicago).
"It's a mess, with different finding aids for different years," Steve said.
"So I developed a one-step method on my Web site -- www.stevemorse.org."
Steve's one-step method includes 1) the address method and 2) the
1) The Address Method
Steve said Joel Weintraub developed a "secret formula" and created a table
for most streets in each AD/ED. The few remaining areas will be covered by the
time of next year's New York conference, he said.
With the AD/ED, you can get the Family History Library roll number, and then
look at the microfilm roll to find your family members.
Steve noted there are two problems which have been identified that his Web
site addresses -- diagonal boundaries, where blocks where split in half
diagonally for the AD/ED, and name changes and renumbering of streets in Queens during
the 1910s and 1920s. Steve has renaming and renumbering tables on his Web
site (there are also existing tables for street name changes in dozens of other
"We put the new names in our streets list, even though they didn't exist at
2) Cross-Street Method
For this, look up the current street names in Mapquest, then go back to the
name change table.
Steve reiterated that the New York census data is for the entire state; his
finding aids focus only on New York City.
If you don't have access to family addresses on material currently in your
possession, other sources might include 1910 federal census data, city
directories, voter registration records and World War I draft registration records.
For those who would like to hear Steve Morse present his general talk on the
various aspects of his Web site and one-step research, he will be speaking at
the Maidu Center in Roseville on February 14. We should have more details as
the date approaches.
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Mark your calendars now for our January meeting, Sunday morning, January 22
-- the speaker will focus on the British and Canadian censuses. And don't
forget to write a check for our annual dues-- $25 -- (bills recently mailed) --
that help us operate and purchase new books for the library throughout the year.
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