Census dates built in to software

As the census dates are a known fact even if different depending on the country, is it possible at some future update that the day & month dates be automatically shown when the year date is entered. This would save considerable time and wear and tear on the fingers when entering census dates for large families. I do have a list of the dates above my keyboard but this just gives me neck ache. Please consider.
Robin Almond


So if you typed 1921 would you suggest it autofills 1 June 1921 for Canada or 19 June for UK?

That’s right Terry. I think the full date is important as it helps sort out actual ages and for it to autofill would be as important as autofilling for addresses.

Of course the full date is important but I am still not following how the program would know which date you wanted. My sequence for adding a new piece of census information is as follows:

  1. Open Edit Person screen for relevant person
  2. Use + sign to add new Fact
  3. Select Census or Residence or whatever you prefer from the dropdown
  4. Enter Date. Now at this point you suggest I type 1921 and the program does the rest. My question is how does the program know whether I want England or Canada as I haven’t got to the point of the program knowing this yet!
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I handle census dates a little differently. I only enter the census year into the census fact date field. I do transcribe the census entry into the census fact note. As such, the note contains a specific day of the year, but the date in the note is the actual date that particular family was enumerated rather than the official date for the census year.

I’m aware that the census enumerators were supposed to record data as of the official census date. For example, suppose the official census date was 1 June and the family was enumerated on 10 June. Suppose a baby was born on 28 May. The baby was supposed to be included in that case. Or suppose a baby was born on 2 June. The baby was not supposed to be included in that case.

But my experience is that the census enumerators often did not follow this procedure properly. I therefore think that recording the official census date rather than just the census year provides a false sense of accuracy. For example, suppose a child was enumerated as age 2 in the 1850 U.S. Federal census. The official census date that year was 1 Jun 1850. If the child’s age was recorded properly according the the official census date, then they were at least 2 years old on 1 June 1850 and they were not yet 3 years old on 1 June 1850. I have therefore seen researchers who record the birth date of such as child as between 2 June 1847 and 1 June 1848 rather than just recording the birth date as being about 1848. I just don’t believe the census data is that accurate. It would be like weighing yourself on a standard bathroom scale and declaring your weight to be 163.4562 pounds. It’s just not real.

I will occasionally find the same family enumerated two different times in the same census year. In such cases, the ages of the family members can vary greatly between the two enumerations - certainly by more than one year of age. So I just don’t think the census enumerators were all that accurate, down to getting the age just right as of the official census date. I think it’s much closer to the truth just to record the census year.

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I would have thought that copy and paste is the easiest way if you are adding multiple entries of the same Census, etc. Usually, you can add the Place/Place Detail with a few keystrokes, as it “predicts” what you are typing with stored places.


This shows the difference between the US way of doing things (presumably because of its size) and the UK way of doing things where there is only one date i.e. all persons in the house or institution/hotel etc. on a particular night. We can therefore use the actual census date.

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My suggestion, and I am only seeking an easier/quicker method of entering a census date and ignoring the complications raised in certain countries, is to add to the Fact list UK Census, US Census, Canadian Census and any other countries with known Census dates (if necessary). For the UK there are only 9 dates, US 13+, Canada 9 and if I click on UK Census and in the date field type 184,the programme (sorry America “program”) will enter 6 Jun 1841 and so on. If I really wish to be pedantic and having saved many keystrokes I can add more birth details in the Notes thus explaining the occasional difference in an actual age. The 1841 UK census of course added to the “age” problem by rounding up or down (or not) the ages of persons over the age of 15.

I’m confident that any teenage whiz kid can programme this useful amendment faster than I have typed this.

Whilst on the subject of the Fact list, could that same kid, make it possible to “hide” many of the Fact choices so that those of us who only use a few can scroll to the one we want quicker?

I’ll give copy and paste a try and see if that works for me but to have what I suggest actually in the programme seems to me to be a better solution.

I hadn’t considered the “enumeration” aspect of this and don’t think I’ve even looked for this complication. You quote an example of a child’s birth but what happens if that child or even an adult was alive at the actual census but died before the enumerator got around to enumerating?

If I were you, I wouldn’t be so confident. I promise you that is going to be a serious PITA to sort out, especially if you have to only apply it on the census, which you would really have to do to keep other dates from polluting the autofill list. Unless you are a programmer and can/have written such a routine…never assume it is something that can just be done.

I personally want a program that does my genealogy for me. It has to go out, find the data and sift it all together correctly. I am absolutely certain any pimple-faced geek should be able to whip that out in a few days.

No I’m not a programmer just an 83 year old trying to find easier ways of doing things. However, I did convince the Head honchos of the American Film Distributors when creating a database of all films that you do not list them with a definite article at the front i.e. The Towering Inferno, The Sound of Music etc. but put it after a comma at the end, otherwise you’ld end up sifting through 1000’s of film titles all starting with that pesky definite article to find the one you want. My database of over 3000 films released in Australia created by me back in the 90’s is still available – I couldn’t copyright it as I was a mere employee of the 5 major studios.

If a hacker can get into Optus and another hacker get into Medibank and steal/ransom the details of millions of Ozies then I am confident that someone “soon” will sort this out for RM.

Even then in the UK, the 1921 Census was taken on the 19th June - it was originally scheduled for the 24th April. I have found institution returns (military etc.) that were in fact taken on the 24th April. How would that work with your suggestion?

I wasn’t aware of this but for the sake of a few keystrokes to enter the date of the occasional military relative I’d still like to see my suggestion at work for the remaining 90+% family members. There are always going to be the odd case but let’s plan for the majority.

And let’s not forget that the British census instructions often required rounding down a person’s age to the closest 5 year multiple. So much for accurate ages.

I suspect this is not going to be viewed as an overly important enhancement and given that if it were to happen, it most likely wouldn’t be any time before RM9 or even RM10 came out, which given that there are several years between releases…well, your 2nd-great-grandkids might actually benefit. As for those nasty hackers, breaking in an stealing existing data is a completely different kettle of fish.

Wasn’t that only true for one census and any other age discrepancies are due to the person providing the info at the census and not knowing their actual birth date. Nothing we can do about that without seeing the birth certificate.

OK. I made a suggestion, people have commented, some have raised nit picky remarks, so now I shall return to my own research and ignore further responses. It may happen it may not but as Harry said to Megan “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. No problem and cheers to you all.

Only the 1841 - please get your facts correct

You are absolutely correct on the 1841 census. But since registration of births wasn’t compulsory until 1875 (although it started in 1837) the closest thing to a “birth certificate” would be an entry in the parish register, I think.