Census, Soundex

Using Soundex

Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from Emily Croom’s bestselling Unpuzzling Your Past. 4th Edition Expanded, Updated and Revised, an invaluable guide which provides all the tools you need to begin your family research. More information about Ms. Croom’s book can be found at the end of this article.

In the following, Ms. Croom discusses how to utilize the Soundex code for genealogical research, which states have the information for specific census years, as well as issues you may encounter in your research.

The 1880, 1900, and 1920 federal censuses and parts of the 1910 and 1930 censuses are indexed by state using a code based on the sounds in surnames. This indexing system is called Soundex. It is most often available as microfilm of the cards on which basic census information was written . . . . The Soundex is especially useful when you do not know specifically where the family was living in the census year. It will tell you their county and community and where you can find them on the census.

One drawback of the 1880 Soundex is that it includes only households with children age ten and under. If Great-Grandpa’s children were already over age ten by 1880, you cannot find him in the Soundex unless he lived with a family that included young children.

States with 1910 Soundex (or Miracode, a Similar System)

Alabama          Illinois             Mississippi                 Pennsylvania

Arkansas         Kansas           Missouri                     South Carolina

California        Kentucky        North Carolina            Tennessee

Florida             Louisiana         Ohio                            Texas

Georgia            Michigan         Oklahoma                    Virginia

West Virginia                                                                                    Continue reading…