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Archiver > APG > 2003-05 > 1053111915

From: Mills <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Census page numbers
Date: Fri, 16 May 2003 14:06:51 -0500
References: <000c01c31ae6$311277c0$309ddb42@oemcomputer><006b01c31b19$9948c000$a52e2644@1pka7> <00d001c31b62$57073160$210110ac@DICK>

Richard wrote:
> Dear Elizabeth and All:
> I need some clarification on the stamped numbers. Above you say that these
> refer to the county, but I recall reading somewhere that the stamped
> are for each census volume and that a volume is usually (if not always?)
> what is included on one microfilm.

Yes, you're right, Richard. I started to get into the Bureau-level creation
of census volumes (which nobody really sees, per se, unless they go to NARA
to use the originals) but decided that would confuse the issue more than it
would help. That's the problem with answering questions and trying to
explain things! If you try to stay on target and keep it simple for those
who prefer it simple, then folks who like things very specific will say
"But, doesn't it also involve this, that, and the other?" <g>.

> In other words, the stamped number refers to the paging on that volume
> (microfilm) and is independent of any jurisdiction; further there is only
> one of each stamped number on a microfilm. For example, if two small
> counties are on one microfilm, then the last page of County A could be
> stamped as page 129 and the first page of County B would be stamped 180.

I'm assuming you mean "the last page of County A could be stamped as 179 and
the first page of County B would be stamped 180"? Yes.

> Additionally, if a county requires two volumes (microfilm rolls), there
> could be a page 100 for that count on Roll A and another on Roll B.

Yes, again! -- which is why we cite microfilm roll numbers as well as page

> Also, with respect to recto and verso and the designations A and B - It
> looks to me as if the letters are printed on the original form and not a
> part of the stamped number. And, although you often see indexes with the
> designations A and B following the page numbers, these are not actually
> necessary to finding the entry. Further, in the 1880 census you will find
> pages marked C and D (C on the right side and D on the left). However, you
> will not find a sequence such as 181A, 181B, 181C, 181D. The recto page
> marked C gets a new folio (page) number, 182. (I'm not sure why there are
> pages printed as C and D. Anyone?)
> And does anyone know which of the census years have the stamped numbers? I
> was looking at some earlier today with only written numbers.
> Perhaps there is a guide someplace as to the numbering of pages in each
> census year?

Yep, it would be nice to have one! However, consistency in any year is hard
to find, IMO. Not only have Census Bureau administrators over the past 213
years handled things in different ways in different years, many enumerators
didn't follow instructions in the first place.

> Elizabeth, since you know me to be a contrarian <g>, I would like to
> that where there is a stamped number, the hand-written number is of little
> value. Each stamped number will (should) appear only once in a given
> (microfilm roll), while the hand-written numbers each could appear several
> times. Further, determining what the page number is in reference to
> the ED?) would require paging pack until you find the number 1, then
> forward until you find the highest number. Seems like much work for little
> value?

Agreed, in principle <g>. That's why companies that post census images tend
to cite them by stamped page number.

But then we also have those years and places in which the stamped numbers
cover both the front and back sides of a leaf while only the sheet number
will differentiate one side from the other. (That's why, in using some of
the online images that are cited to stamped folio number, the site engine
takes us to that folio number and we wait eons for the whole page to
download and wade through a whole big sheet of hen scratching or
non-existent ink traces, and still don't find our people. Then we have to go
through that all over again with the page after it or the page before it
scroll to find the actual page with our entry).

And then there are all those cases in which stamped numbers aren't visible
on a frame of film or a photocopy. And, of course, all those years in which
censuses were rarely subdivided into enumeration districts with individually
numbered "sheets" -- yet double-numbering is often there, because a county
marshal would decide to number all his sheets consecutively and then the
Census Bureau would stamp them with a different set of numbers as they bound
one or more counties into a book. (And, as one APGer pointed out offline,
even though the current companies tend to cite to stamped number in these
cases, the old AIS indexes often cited to penned numbers.)

It seems to me that the bottom line is this:

1. Any time we use a record, we need to study not only the detail in the
record (i.e., the GOOD STUFF!) but also the organization and arrangement of
the documents or pages within the record (i.e., the BORING STUFF!). But of
course, we're so eager to deal with that GOOD STUFF! that we hate to take
the time for BORING STUFF! like the context in which the record is created
or the way pages are arranged <g>.

2. After we've studied the arrangement of the record, then we make a
decision as to what is the best way to cite that particular record set to
make it clear exactly what we used -- and, where two sets of numbers exist,
we make it clear which we've used.

But, of course, what we all really want is that one-size-fits-all formula
that will spare us the chore of thinking it through each time <g>.


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Author, *Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian*
Editor/Author, *Professional Genealogy: A Manual for
Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians*

CG and CGL are service marks of the Board
for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by those
who have passed BCG's rigorous examination process.

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