28 September 2013

Why No Freunds?

When I cannot locate a name in a database, I usually wonder a combination of the following:

  • What am I doing wrong?
  • Is the name written or transcribed in an unusual way that I'm not thinking of?
  • Is the search working the way I think it is?
  • Is the database complete?

The speed with which these questions can be answered varies.  Experimenting with the search interface can sometimes solve problems resulting from the first three situations. The last question can be more difficult to answer. It can be that the original records are incomplete or it is also possible that the database is "in progress." The page may not indicate if the data is complete.

I noticed that the 1905 Iowa State Census was recently updated or uploaded to FamilySearch and decided to perform some preliminary searches for a few family members in Scott County, Iowa. My search for George Freund failed to locate any references to this name in Scott County. There should have been at least two George Freunds in Davenport--first cousins of approximately the same age. There could have easily been a younger George Freund by 1905 as well.

FamilySearch is fairly robust in terms of spelling variants (usually), so I decided to broaden my search and look for Freunds in Scott County. There were none as of the time I made my search while writing this post. None. That's odd as both Georges had other family members who should have been enumerated in Scott County in 1905.

The 1905 census enumerated every one in the household. It seemed strange that no Freunds were obtained--so I broadened the search even more and only searched for Scott County, Iowa, residents..

Searching the 1905 Iowa State Census database at FamilySearch for individuals whose residence was only as specific as "Scott County Iowa" resulted in 30,666 matches as of 6:30 PM Central time on 28 September 2013 as shown below.

The 1900 population for Scott County, Iowa, was 51,558 according to the United States Census Bureau. 1900 and 1905 are not that far apart and I seriously doubt the population declined by nearly forty percent in five years.

The 1905 Iowa State Census is an every name census and the population of the area from one census to the other should be reasonably close. The difference between the FamilySearch total of 30,666 and the 1900 federal census count of 51, 558 is significant.

At this point, I do not have an answer for the discrepancy. What I do know is that until I find out what's going on, I'm not going to spend too much time searching this database for various family members in Scott County. There is no notation on the search page about whether the database is "in progress."

It is also possible that not all of the 1905 Iowa State Census for Scott County is extant.

As of this post. I don't know.