Helpful staff and volunteers await the public at the National Archives. Do not fear that this research must be done without assistance. While the staff cannot conduct the research for a patron they are very willing to demonstrate the steps necessary to access the wealth of information in their collection. The research process begins with the Soundex Coding System. According to the publication, Getting Started: Beginning Your Genealogical Research in the National Archives in Washington:
To find an individual name among the millions listed in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, you will use an index- ing and filing system called the Soundex. The Soundex is a coded surname index based on the way a surname sounds rather than the way it is spelled. Surnames that sound the same but are spelled differently, like SMITH and SMYTH, have the same code and are filed together. The Soundex coding system was developed so that you can find a surname even though it may have been recorded under various spellings. To search for a particular surname, you must first work out its code. Every Soundex code consists of a letter and three numbers, like S650. The letter is always the first letter of the surname.6
Archives staff can assist with figuring out long or short names as well as names with prefixes. The following is a guide to use at the National Archives Rocky Mountain Region branch. Once the family's Soundex Code is established the following steps help locate the actual census record:
1. Using the Soundex worksheet, figure out the family's Soundex code. It will begin with the first letter of the last name and is followed by 3 numbers. For example HOLLIS = H442. 2. Refer to the Catalog of National Archives Microfilm, copies of which are available in the research room, for any of the following years, 1920, 1910, 1900. Under the state that the family lived in, look for the family's Soundex code e.g. Georgia - H400 - H453. This catalog will identify the microfilm reel number needed to find the Soundex card (the microfilm cabinet and drawer number is written in the margins). Film cabinets and drawers of microfilm at the National Archive are labeled and numbered accordingly. Find the drawer that contains the appropriate film and retrieve the reel. 3. Load the film onto a microfilm reader. Similar sounding names are grouped together under the Soundex code on the microfilm. The Soundex code will be in the upper right/left corner of the index cards on the film. Search for the first occurance of the family Soundex code. The names are in alphabetical order by the first initial of the first names e.g. all "Joseph" and "John" listings are grouped together under a specific name, e.g. all Joseph Hollis' are listed together. Search for the family name. 4. If a relative's index card is found note the following: the Enumeration District number, or ED# which is located in the upper right corner of the index card. Write this down! It will help find the family record. Also copy the county, city, sheet number and the line number. Rewind and unload the microfilm reel. 5. Return to the Catalog of National Archives Microfilm and reference the front of the catalog for a listing of states and their corresponding enumeration districts. With the ED# in hand, search under the correct state for the county and the matching ED# e.g. Georgia - Morgan County - ED 101. Note the number of the microfilm reel and the film cabinet and drawer numbers which are written in the margin and write this down. This will be the microfilm reel that contains the family's complete census record. 6. Locate the microfilm reel and load it. The ED# is written in the upper right corner of each census sheet along with the sheet numbers. Search for the family's sheet number, e.g. "18". Each sheet/page has numbered lines. Scan the page for the family's entry on the correct line, e.g. #3 Hollis, Oliver. If all goes well, you have hopefully found a legible census record of your family member. ·Remember that the Archives staff and volunteers are there to help with family research. Do not be shy about asking for assistance but be patient if it is a busy day. The Microfilm Reading Room is small and contains 30 microfilm readers that are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Time restrictions of three hours per person per microfilm reader are enforced if a line begins to form. Space is tight. Get there early.
Even though the Hollis soundex code should be H442 my research found that family records were filed under H420. This is the first of 2 1900 Soundex cards for the Oliver Hollis family in Morgan County, Georgia. Note that Lillie the wife and seven children are listed along with their age, birthday, and birthplace information. This is the 2nd index card. Of the seven children listed, the last entry is for a nephew, John Scott.
With regard to the soundex card index, I recorded the necessary information in the upper right corner of the card, i.e. the ED number, volume number, sheet number, and line number. Race is entered as "color" on the line below the name of the head of family in the upper left corner of the index card. The letter "B" is entered for Black. This will prove interesting when compared to racial information that is listed for the Hollis family in the 1910 and 1920 census schedules. It was not enough to record an individual as Black during this time. Complexion proves to be of interest to census enumerators. The age of family members is also interesting to compare to the entries in the 1910 and 1920 census records.
This is the actual 1900 census schedule. Note the upper right corner states that this is sheet number eighteen and line three is where the entry for the Hollis family begins. Unfortunately this record did not scan more clearly for legibility. It is included to show an original census schedule. It is easier to read in microfilm format. Microfilm reader printers at the Rocky Mountain regional branch of NARA are available in order to make a paper copy of the record. |next section| |Table of Contents|