Thursday, August 2, 2007

Knock, knock...

Two-hundred and seventeen years ago yesterday, on August 1, 1790, census-takers went door to door knocking on homes in the young United States of America and the first official U.S. Census of the United States was completed. If you're old enough, you may remember participating in one or more yourself. (The last U.S. Census was completed in the year 2000.)

The U.S. Census is a goldmine for family history researchers and it was one of the first places I started when I began looking for information about our family. At this time, the most recent census information available to researchers is the 1930 census, and I started there and went back each decade as I learned more about different branches of our family. Each census year provides a little bit different information, including home addresses, family members' occupations, ages, birthplaces, and more.

Below is an image from the 1920 Census of Frank & Helen Ujlaky and their family residing at 431 East 16th Street, Manhattan, New York. Listed are their children Frank, Helen, Mary and Wilhelmina, ages 13, 9, 8 and 6. The census lists Frank's job as "Carpenter: Wagons".

If you are interested in taking a look at original census records yourself, you can access them free via at most local libraries. If you have a library card, you can access the census records from your home computer via most local library websites' connection to Heritage Quest online. (Unfortunately, does not allow remote access for library users, and their subscription prices are pretty steep.) Some census records are also available online at the LDS Family Search website. Each site has a different search engine so sometimes you can find your family census records on one site when you can't find them on others.

Family Tree Magazine's website has some easy to use downloadable forms for the U.S. Census and other family history purposes. Print out a stack of these for each census year that you are taking a look at and it will make it easier to understand what you are reading.

I hope you'll enjoy trying your hand at a little family history research yourself. Please let me know if you make any exciting discoveries!


  1. Lisa, I have a subscription to and believe I may have found your Frank and Helen in the 1910 U.S. Census. They are listed as Frank and Helen Ujlakei. They are living at 415 Fifth Street in the 17th Ward of Manhattan. Frank is 31 years old and Helen is 26. They had been married 5 years, and Helen was the mother of one child, who was still living. Their birthplaces and parents' birthplaces are given as Hungary. It almost looks like Magyar is written above Hungary, and there is something in parentheses next to Hungary. Immigration year says 1906 for Frank, Helen, and young Frank. Language spoken is Hungarian. Frank's occupation is given as wheelright in a wagonhouse. Both Frank and Helen were listed as being able to read and write. Frank was employed on the census day and was not unemployed at all during the year. Young Frank is listed as 4 years old, and his birthplace is given as New York. There is a boarder named James Goryfacker (hard to read his last name) living with them. He is age 28 and was also born in Hungary. His marital status might be single, but it is hard to tell. His immigration year is also 1906, and his occupation was porter in a restaurant. Hope this helps! I will email you the actual image. I think I saw your email in another post.

  2. Thank you so much, Jennifer, for taking the time to look for this census record. I had not been persistent enough, I guess. Nothing like the dedication of an experienced census-record-seeker to find the record of a family that surely had to be there somewhere!

    This is clearly the Ujlaki family that I was seeking. Your find is a reminder to me that I should never stop looking, but should certainly not expect names and records to appear as they I think they "should".

    Thanks! You made my day.



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