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July, 2017:

Census Tips: 1850 Census

NC county boundaries in 1850
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The 1850 census was the seventh federal census. Census day was June 1, 1850. Census day is when gathering information for the census began. All information was for the previous year ending on that day. Several changes happened with procedures and the type of information recorded. In 1850, the Census Office was created and began operation. The enumeration continued to be taken door to door, but the duties of the newly formed office was to collect the returns for each state and prepare reports. Until 1902 when the Census Office became its own federal agency, the office would disband after each enumeration was complete and form again in order to prepare for the next census in ten years.

NC county boundaries during the 1850 census

In addition to the original census schedule, two other copies were made. One copy was  given to the Secretary of State for each state or territory. Another copy was given to each county court for that county’s enumeration. It is important to keep that in mind while looking at the 1850 census and beyond. You may be looking at an  image of the original, but you might be looking at a copy, or even a copy of the copy. This presents a lot of room for human error.


City Directories: Mapping Ancestors

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The topic today focuses on using information in city directories for mapping ancestors. By the term mapping ancestors, I am referring to using a variety of maps to help pinpoint where your ancestors lived using different types of maps.

Since December 2016, I have discussed using City Directories for your research.  Previous posts in this series are:

Also, in June, I talked about Sanborn maps, which is relevant to today’s post.

Although today’s post is about using information in city directories, you can also apply the same methods for mapping ancestors using census, or possibly tax, information. However, this will only work if you have their address. City directories work very well for mapping your ancestors because they give addresses for those who are listed and the street directory gives information on the owner of the home. As with past posts in the series, I’ll continue using information on the Pettiford family.

Let’s get started….


Have a Question? Ask GHL!

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The Government & Heritage Library has stepped up its Reference service. “Ask GHL” is our answer to patrons who have a quick question, need basic assistance with resources, or are otherwise unable to come to the library to seek research help. Now, from many pages on the Government & Heritage Library website, or just by connecting via, you can chat with GHL Reference staff online, in real-time.

Ask GHL! chat reference service

Users can connect with library staff just as they would at the Reference desk in the library—simply ask your question, and receive assistance in finding the answer. From 9am-5pm Monday through Friday, we’ll be online, providing patrons the ability to ask questions from their desktop, laptop, or from any device. More than just a time-saver, Ask GHL offers an interactive way to bring our personalized library services directly to our patrons.

While Ask GHL can be easily accessed directly from any chat box on the library website, users can also connect in a new window via This link allows users to launch their chat in its own window, which offers the convenience of instantly connecting with library staff while remaining on your current webpage. So, if you’ve ever wanted to have a personal librarian with you to ask for help as you’re working, you’re in luck: the Government & Heritage Library brings #everythingNC to everywhere you go!

The Government & Heritage Library Reference staff looks forward to connecting with patrons via online chat.  Visit us at and Ask GHL the next time you have a research question!

This blog is a service of the State Library of North Carolina, part of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Blog comments and posts may be subject to Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.