“1880 U.S. Census Released on CD-ROM,” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 75
Suppose you needed information about an ancestor who lived in the United States in 1880, but all you knew was the first name and approximate birth year. Before, your task would have seemed impossible. But now chances are good you will be able to find that person quickly using the 1880 United States census records just released on CD-ROM by the Church.
The 56-CD-ROM set puts 50.5 million names and data about those individuals at the fingertips of family history researchers, along with a powerful search engine. “It is the most significant family history product the Church has produced to date,” said Ray Madsen, manager of resource files for the Family and Church History Department.
The 1880 census provides the most comprehensive census picture of the country’s population as the nation expanded westward. The record’s nationwide and regional indexes allow researchers to search broadly or more narrowly, according to the information they may have. The versatile search engine, developed by the Family and Church History Department and used in a number of other family history products, allows “bits and pieces” or “wild card” searches, Brother Madsen explained. Researchers may use the bits and pieces they have about an individual—first name, place of birth, or occupation, for example. In a wild card search they may replace easily mistaken or unknown letters with an asterisk and the search will turn up names with the blanks filled.
Completion of the extraction project took 17 years and involved 11.5 million hours of work by extractors. The Historic Census Project of Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota worked as a partner with the Church.
Brother Madsen said that the 1880 U.S. census record can be used effectively by researchers in conjunction with the 1881 British census record introduced by the Church in 1999 (this includes 30 million names from England, Wales and Scotland) and the 1881 Canadian census soon to be completed.
The 1880 United States census record package (item no. 50168000, U.S. $49.00) includes 35 data CDs, 20 index CDs, and a viewer CD and is available through Church distribution centers.