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Three Days Lost in 1940

Wow, it’s been a busy three days! I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having a blast exploring he 1940s neighborhoods where my ancestor lived. While it’s really nice to have an index, the good thing about browsing and using enumeration district maps is the opportunity to really get to know the places where they lived. This kind of knowledge can pay big dividends down the road.

As I’ve helped many of you in our daily Live Look-ups on Livestream, I’ve also been able to explore some of your ancestors’ neighborhoods. As I’ve done so, we’ve had some challenges with some searches, so I thought I’d share some tips I’ve found useful.

Print and/or Edit Maps

Sometimes the Enumeration District Maps aren’t the easiest to read. In one case I took a screen shot that I saved as a JPG file, and used my photo editing program to lighten and darken maps with some degree of success.

I’ve also used screen shot editing programs to grab portions of maps and add lines, circles, and arrows where the edges of the enumeration district (ED) are not distinct. This gives me a better picture of what streets are in the area where I’m searching, where I expect the address to fall, and when I’m getting close while I’m browsing census images. Here’s one example I used when I was helping a friend pin down an address.

I used a contemporary map to try to pin down approximately where the address she was looking for would fall and used red lines to highlight the sometimes hard to follow edges of the ED.

In another case, I was helping someone in our Live Look-Up sessions on Livestream (archived versions are here-scroll down past the viewer and click on them) who couldn’t find his great-grandparents’ block enumerated in the ED it was supposed to fall in. I thought I would see if tracing the route he took would help. As it turned, it looks like this enumerator did not complete his appointed route (clearly he wasn’t a mailman in his other job). It looks like several blocks were not completed.

Browsing Images on

I’m loving the new image viewer and all the things that you can do with it. While I always go through looking for names when I’m browsing (you may find an enumerator who forgot to note when he turned onto a new street), there are times when I want to just browse quickly, looking for a particular street. Instead of getting a neckache trying to read everything sideways, I can rotate the image by clicking on the green Actions button, then selecting Image Controls top open up those options.

Although I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the images, there have been times when I’ve been less than impressed with the handwriting. TheInvert colorsflips the colors so you’re reading white writing on a black background and it’s been helpful in deciphering some words. You can also adjust he contrast with these tools.

Hope this has been helpful and that you’re having as much fun as I am. If you have any questions you’d like me to address here, you can email me at  

I hope you’ll also join us tomorrow for another Live Look-up session at 1 pm ET here on Livestream. Anne Mitchell and myself will be in the Chat Room helping as many of you as we can, and Crista Cowan, the Barefoot Genealogist, will be sharing some of her favorite tips in the video.

Happy Searching!


  1. ancestry-stickynotes posted this