Saturday, August 14, 2010

Census Search: City Directory Approach

Recently, I wanted to find a family in the 1900 census. I was told that they lived at 708 Melrose from 1896-1903 and so, theoretically, they should have been enumerated at that address. (I double-checked the 1896 and 1901 city directories and that was the address given.) Unfortunately, a name search of the 1900 census yielded no match.

It's possible to the maps at A Look at Cook to determine the enumeration district in order to page through a census, but it's also possible to use a neighbors approach now that the Chicago city directories are online and searchable at

In this case, I searched the 1901 directory by address (708 Melrose, 706 Melrose, etc.) looking for a name that I thought would easily appear in the census index at (Note: It's important to put the search terms in quotes, e.g., "704 Melrose") Carl Schmidt at 706 Melrose was a possibility but the name was too common. Eventually, I found Richard E. Pause at 702 Melrose and I was able to easily locate him in the census. Scrolling down the page, the entries jumped from 704 to 710 making it appear that 706 and 708 were skipped.

I followed a similar approach to locate the odd numbers for the same street thinking that perhaps the entries were made out of order. This page shows 707, 709, and 711.

I'm thinking it's possible that the families living at 708 Melrose were, indeed, skipped, but why? I notice in the 1900 city directory that there's a business listing for Bruno Rohden (stove repairs) at 708 Melrose. Is it possible that 708 Melrose was a storefront and that the enumerator didn't check to see if anyone was residing at that address?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

After looking through the census as you did, I agree that 708 Melrose was missed. Looking at the 1900 City Directory, there is a Balduan Rohden Clothing Ctr h. 708 Melrose. He is definately not listed on the 1900 census.

Anonymous said...

The house number may have changed. There is a place online (can't remember which, but it is one of these: or that has a PFD directory of house numbers that were changed in 1909. And there are a lot of them.

Cynthia said...

Great point! Some Chicago street names and street numbers have changed over the years. The guides to the changes are available at under the "Tools" tab.

The 1909 renumbering wouldn't have affected this search though. I was trying to match a 1900 address to the 1900 census.

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