13 November 2008

1880 Census Locations--A Township by Any other Name would Confuse me

I realize it is a minor thing, but there is a difference between a "city" and a "township."

This screen shot comes from Ancestry.com 's 1880 census index search results. Walker is not a town in Hancock County, it is a township. Walker township contains the village of Tioga. Researchers who type in "Tioga" as a search term in the "home in 1880" box will be disappointed--there will be no results even though there are Tioga residents in the 1880 census. Genealogists with ancestors in very small towns should actually enter the name of the township in the search box. Of course, the word "township" does not appear with the word "Walker."

It is not just Ancestry.com that lumps all jurisdictions smaller than a county as one thing. Familysearch does it as well. Searchers here looking for Tioga, Illinois, residents will need to choose "Walker" as the "town."

There is a difference between a township and a town and a township and a city.
I am not certain what is the easiest way to handle this is--deciding what to name the search term smaller than a county is difficult because several political jurisdictions were used, township, town/city, and village.
Users just need to keep in mind that sometimes database programmers need to get slightly creative with search terms in order to make data searchable. Researchers still need to pay attention--townships and towns are not the same thing.

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