03 January 2013

Year of Birth Searches at Ancestry.com-1900 Census

Hopefully I'm just missing something on this search at Ancestry.com where I'm using the year of birth as one of my search terms. Or maybe because this entry is somewhat unusual the search at  Ancestry.com is not working quite the way I think it should. Or maybe it's just because I am looking for Trautvetters.

This screen is the "record" for Theodore Trautvetter in the 1900 census at Ancestry.com.


A close look will indicate that something is amiss here. The entry indicates Theodore was born in October of 1883 and immigrated to the United States in 1853 and was married in 1871. Those things simply cannot happen.

The image below is part of the Trautvetter family entry from Rocky Run Township:


I can easily see how the year was transcribed as 1883. I'm not certain I would have transcribed it that way, but I can see how one might think that is what is said. There are two other "4"s in this entry and there are numerous other "8"s all of which have the loop on the bottom. Of course, an 1883 birth is not consistent with being aged 56 or being married 29 years, but that is a separate issue. Transcribers are told to read it as it looks. And the transcription of the year is not really the point of this post.

The age and year of birth are as transcribed in the Ancestry.com database are inconsistent for someone living in 1900. I wondered if this would impact searches done for Theodore using a year of birth. I thought that 1883 should be the year of birth used if querying the database using birth year as a search term.

However, it did not work. I used a birth of 1883 (plus/minus two years) as my search terms (along with a first name and the 1900 residence)--image shown below. There were no results.


Maybe 1843 was the year of birth in the database since it was the age. I thought that would allow me to find Theodore. I tried again, using the 1843 year of birth (plus/minus 2) and still obtained no results. 


Just to be certain that the location or name were not the problem I removed the year of birth completely and searched for the first name of Theodore in Rocky Run Township, Hancock County, Illinois.

Sure enough, Theodore came up as a result.



What I don't understand is why using the age as a search term resulted in a failure to locate him.

Hopefully either Ancestry.com or a reader can point me to the error of my ways.

Unless it's a problem with the Ancestry.com search.

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