Free access to 1880s census info on family history Web site

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    By Kacey Earl

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Wednesday Oct. 23 that the entire 1880 U.S. Census, the 1881 British Census and the 1881 Canadian Census will be accessible free of charge on the Family History Web site.

    The Census press conference was broadcast to dozens of locations across Canada and the United States, making this the largest family history announcement in the history of the church.

    This new online database, providing information on more than 85 million American, British and Canadian citizens, is available for the first time in a free, searchable form, said President Gordon B. Hinckley at the press conference held at Temple Square.

    More than 100 years ago, this federal census was conducted, gathering specific information on every man, woman, and child in the United States. This information was sent to genealogy specialists, full-time volunteers and computer programmers in Census City.

    It took more than 11.5 million man-hours over a 17-year period to extract the information, said Raymond Madsen, manager of information records for the Family and Church History Department.

    The end result is an invaluable source of family history information available at the Web site, www.familysearch.org, with a database that can be searched by name, birth date or birthplace.

    “An amazing thing happens when people begin to trace their roots,” said President Hinckley. “They discover they are not alone in this world, that they have a heritage, a legacy and a sense of responsibility to carry on where their ancestors left off.”

    Many notable individuals of that era are counted in the Census, including Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, Louisa May Alcott, John Phillip Sousa and Wyatt Earp.

    “This (database) is not about the records but about people,” Elder Henry B. Eyring, a member of the church”s Council of the Twelve, told reporters. “The Census paints a portrait of our nation. From Wild West legends and influential artists, to ambitious industrialists and ingenious inventors, many of the personalities listed in the 1880 U.S. Census are representative of the expansion, innovation and development of the nation.”

    These records contain names, genders, birth dates, addresses, marital status, occupation and ethnicity of millions of people. It also includes information not presented in the original census such as who lived adjacent to the subject, the relationship of the subject to the head of the household, and the birthplace of the parents.

    “This will increase availability for worldwide use to anyone that has the Internet,” said Margaret Hyson, department assistant in the genealogy department. “You have to know your history to know yourself.”

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