The step-by-step reasoning behind the CensusMate worksheet, as it was developed.
Worksheet for Genealogy and Family History
The CensusMate Worksheet
A Step-by-step Explanation

Follow the evolution of the census image data into the new format.
Start with the original 1810 census data snippet for Henry Haynes.

Step 1. Put the data in a table
Step 2. Label the age ranges
Step 3. Make the data more compact
Step 4. Show the range of birth years
Step 5. Add rows for names
Step 6. Improve the first column
Step 7. Replace the year ranges with a date scale
Summary & Results

Step 1. Put the data in a table
Step 2. Label the age ranges
  • The residents are each listed in one of five age ranges:
    • "0 to 9", "10 to 15", etc.
    • Those ranges were identical for males and females, except in 1820 ... more about 1820 later.
  • The free and slave entries have no age data and are not used in the new format.
Step 3. Make the data more compact - move the female data under the male data
  This move is important - by aligning similar age ranges we
simpify the table and set up an important addition to follow ...
  The resulting table is more compact, so we can stretch it out ...  
  .. and get it all horizontal again -it's now easy to see the family age groups.
  • It is clear that Henry is the 45 & up male, and
  • Tabitha is probably the 26 to 44 year old female.
Step 4. Show the range of birth years
  The range of birth years corresponds to those age ranges for the 1810 census. This simple feature
  • Makes birth year ranges easy to see at a glance, and
  • Eliminates math errors in calculating birth years.
Step 5. Add rows for names
  These two rows provide a place to write down the identity of folks as we figure them out ...Henry is clearly the adult male, and it's most probable that his second wife Tabitha is the older female, age 26 to 44.  
Step 6. Improve the first column
  The information in this first column is pretty obvious so use this space as a spot to put some more useful data ..  
  ... add the census year, head of household, and the county.  
  Put the original male & female age group codes [11001 and 11110] in the two remaining slots. The reasons for this will be apparent when we deal with the final worksheet.  
Step 7. Replace the year ranges with a timeline scale
  • The addition of the timeline scale, running from 1810 backwards, is a crucial step.
  • The columns of data for each age range are then stretched to align with the timeline scale.
  • This allows census data from additional years to line up in the final worksheet.

This new format for census data organizes a lot of information at a glance:

  • It provides a compact summary of the census data.
    • 1810 is the year of the census
    • 11001 is the count of males by age range
    • Henry Haynes is the head of the household
    • 11110 is the count of females by age range, and
    • Bedford County is the census place
  • Age and birth year data are along the top:
    • The age ranges used for the 1810 census - 0 to 9, 10 to 15, etc.
    • The birth years corresponding to those age ranges - 1810 to 1800, etc.
  • Data for the males is placed in the next two rows, females in the lower two.
    • The number of people in each of the age ranges
    • Space to record any known names, e.g., Henry and Tabitha.
Results The format works for all of the pre-1850 census data
  • Different age ranges for other census are easily shown.
  • The real power is when multiple censuses are stacked.
  • This is shown in the examples section
© John L. Haynes 2000-2003
Rev 0.9 20-Oct-2003