The National Archives has microfilm copies of card indexes that can be useful in obtaining United States Federal Census records for the 1880 (partial), 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses, When using census records, it is recommended that you begin your research in the most recent available indexed census. At present, only federal censuses through 1920 are open to the public. To protect the privacy of the living American people whose names appear in each schedule, population schedules are closed for 72 years after the census is taken, and are not generally available to researchers during that time.
In the late 1930's the federal government, in its efforts to index the U.S. censuses, devised the Soundex system. The names from the census records were extracted, coded and placed onto cards. After coding, the cards were then sorted according to certain Soundex rules. The result was a listing of people from the censuses whose names, although spelled differently, were grouped together because they "sounded" alike. Finding the Soundex code for a given surname can be one of the most valuable tools in genealogical research, since it facilitates using government documents that are arranged by the Soundex index.
Other federal records that have been indexed using this system include ship passenger lists and military records, and many state and local records are soundexed as well. The Soundex coding system is useful because it allows you to find a person in the census even though their name may have been recorded under various spellings. The advantage to this type of index is that phonetic spellings are grouped with what might be considered the standard spelling for the name. This helps to compensate for an unusual spelling of the surname, Surnames that sound the same but are spelled differently, like Smith and Smyth, have the same code and are filed together in the index.
To locate a particular surname in the Soundex index, you must first find its code. Finding the Soundex code for a person's name is easy to do. Every Soundex code consists of a letter and a 3-digit number. The letter is always the first letter of the surname. if the name is Kuhne, for example, the index card will be in the "K" segment of the index. Then numbers are assigned to the remaining letters of the surname. The code for Kuhne, worked out according to the system below, is 500.
The Soundex Coding Guide
Key Letters Or Equivalents:The letters a, e, i, o, u, y, w and h are not coded. The first letter of a surname is not coded. Every Soundex number must be a 3-digit number.1 b, p, f, v
2 c, s, k, g, j, q, x, z
3 d, t
5 m, n
On line 1, write the surname you are coding, placing one letter in each box.
On line 2, write the first letter of the surname in the first box.
On fine 1, disregarding the first letter, slash through the remaining letters a, e, i, o, u, w, y and h.
On line 2, write the numbers found on the Soundex Coding Guide for the first three remaining unslashed letters. Add zeros to any empty boxes. Disregard any additional letters.
Most Surnames can be coded using the four steps mentioned above. However, for names with prefixes, double letters or letters side by side that have the same number on the Soundex Coding Guide, some additional rules apply.
Additional Soundex Rules
Names with Prefixes
If your surname has a prefix - like Van, Von, De, Di, or Le - you should code it both with an without the prefix because it might be listed under either code. The surname vanDevater, for 0 example, should be coded in the two ways shown. (Mc and Mac are not considered prefixes.)
Names with Double Letters
If your surname has any double letters, they should be treated as one letter. Thus, in the surname Lloyd, the second L should be slashed out; in the surname Gutierrez, the second R should be slashed out.
Names with Letters Side by Side that Have the Same Number on the Soundex Coding Guide
Your surname may have different letters that are side by side and have the same number on the Soundex Coding Guide; for example, PF in Pfister (1 is the number for both P and F); CKS in Jackson (2 is the number for C, k and S). These letters should be treated as one letter. Thus, in the name Pfister, F should be slashed out; in the name Jackson, K and S should be slashed out.
Once your ancestor's name is correctly coded, you are ready to use the microfilmed Soundex card index. This index is organized by state, thereunder by Soundex code, and thereunder alphabetically by the first name or initial of the individual for whom you are searching. After you have located the first name, took for the surname and then the county. When you find the person you're looking for on the microfilm roll, you'll discover that the index card displayed on the screen lists quite a bit of information on the individual (although not as much information as contained in the actual census schedules).
It is important to note that the 1880 and 1910 Soundex indexes are not as complete as the 1900 and 1920. For the 1880 census, Soundex entries include only those households containing a child age 10 or under. The Soundex cards you'll see on the microfilm roll show the name, age and birthplace of each member of such households. There is a separate cross-reference card for each child age 10 or under whose surname differs from that of the head of the household under whom he is listed.
You must know at least your ancestor's full name and state or territory of residence to begin research in the 1900, 1910 or 1920 censuses. It is also helpful to know the full name of the head of household in which your ancestor lived because at the turn of the century, as in all U.S. censuses, census takers recorded information under that name. For the 1900 census, there is a complete Soundex index to all household heads with cross-reference cards for all persons with different surnames. For the 1910 census, there are microfilm Soundex indexes for only these states: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Another indexing method that is similar to the Soundex system is known as "Miracode." it has been used to develop indexes for Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. There are no indexes for the remaining states and territories.
After you've located a person's name in the Soundex index, using the Soundex code, you'll need to copy from the displayed Soundex card the enumeration number; sheet nw-nber and fine number in order to use the census schedules. The microfilm for the different census schedules is usually organized by census year, state, and county. Many libraries can order any state that you request free of charge from the American Genealogical Lending Library (AGLL).
When viewing census schedules, it is necessary to look first for the state and county. Then you need to go by the enumeration district number (that appeared in the Soundex Index for the particular person); followed by the sheet number, and finally the fine number. Special forms are available for transcribing census information. You can generally get them for a small fee at Latter-Day Saints (LDS) branch libraries, historical societies, or places with genealogical research rooms. The forms are different for each census year, and you will want to make several copies of each of them for your use.
The Mayrand Name
The appropriate code for the Mayrand name, worked out according to the Soundex Coding Guide, is M653.
The following examples illustrate other surnames that have the same Soundex coding as the Mayrand name. Though this may not be an exhaustive list, sufficient examples are included so that you can locate most if not all surnames with the same reference code. Although these names display the same code, it is important to understand that no genealogical or ethnic relationships are implied.
If you're still uncertain on how to work out the Soundex code for a surname of interest, the codes to over 500,000 surnames have been published in a book called The Soundex Reference Guide which is available in most large libraries and also from the AGLL.
For more information on how to locate a family in the census schedules (after finding the Soundex code), contact the American Genealogical Lending Library (AGLL), P. 0. Box 244, Bountiful, L7 8401
Surnames With Soundex "M653"
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