What are Name Lists?

The following article was written by my friend, William Dollarhide:

An important step in finding the place of residence for a person is the use of published censuses and census substitutes. Most genealogists are familiar with the use of federal census records – but there are a myriad of census substitutes as well. A census substitute may take the form of a territorial/state census, court record, militia list, directory, veterans’ list, tax list, or voter list. We can combine these two categories into one by calling them all “Name Lists.” And, because a name list identifies the residents of an area from various local, state, and national sources – a name list becomes a genealogist’s best place-finding tool. A good example is when a genealogist learns from a death certificate that an ancestor was born in Alabama. What needs to be done first is find the county of residence in Alabama. An Alabama name list is the first tool we can use to find the exact place of residence there. Genealogists learn early that finding the county of residence for an ancestor is a break-through in their research efforts. That is because the typical American courthouse is a treasure chest of genealogical information about the residents of a county. The courthouse is where we find birth, marriage, death, and burial records; court records, e.g., orphans, wills, probates, deeds, and property records; and many other documents with specific genealogical revelations.

Dollarhide’s New State Name Lists Books

The new series of state name lists books is a hybrid of my previous work, Census Substitutes and State Census Records (2008, Family Roots Publishing Co, 2 vols. 500 pages). Looking at updating the 2 vol. set to include the many Internet resources added since 2008, the additional name lists to be identified would have caused the 2-volume set to become a 12-volume set. After some discussion with publisher, Leland Meitzler, we decided to prepare the added name lists for one state in one book. Published in alphabetical order, the first nine state name lists books were introduced at the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree in Burbank, the first week of June 2013. A description of book 1, Alabama Name Lists was featured in a previous GenealogyBlog, which you can access here. Click here.

State & County Name Lists Identified

A census is often considered a genealogist’s main name list, but there are census substitutes that accomplish the same thing – they are Name Lists of the inhabitants of a particular area at a particular time. In each of the new state name lists books, the state and county databases (in print, microfilm, or online) came from one of the eight (8) name list categories described below:

1. Territorial & State Census Records. Any censuses taken apart from the federal censuses for a territory or state are identified for each state. Local and county censuses are included if the databases are online.

2. State and County Court Records. Records created in state and county courts are place-finders. Examples of these court records include naturalization records; miscellaneous court lists such as probates, orphans, estates, and wills; and real estate transactions. Any published or online court records at the state level are included in the bibliography; plus any county court record is included if the database is available online.

3. Directories. Town, City, or County Directories date back to the 1700s. From the late 1800s to the present, the directories give detailed information about a person/family, often including the name of the head of household, and all members of a family by name, age, and occupation. The best place to find original city directories today is the local library for a town, city, or county. Libraries often have complete runs of the directories since the first year they were published for that area. Any published or online directory is included in the state’s bibliography.

4. State Militia Lists. Beginning with the 1770s, name lists exist for rosters of men in the various state units. State Militia lists may exist for the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

5. State Veterans & Pensioners Lists. Added to the name lists of militia soldiers are the name lists of veterans and pensioners. Veterans’ lists include extensive databases for the Civil War Pensions issued by the U.S. Government for Union Veterans, as well as Confederate Pensions issued by the southern states. Each state’s involvement in all wars is identified with name lists in published books, microfilm, or online databases.

6. Tax Lists. A Tax List, Assessor’s List, or List of Taxpayers for an area, etc., is very similar to a heads of household census. Usually listed by name is the taxpayer, sometimes the number of other persons in a household; and then details about the person’s tax burden, whether personal or real property. Tax lists between census years can reveal previously unknown places of residence, and give an idea of the financial worth of a person. The earliest tax lists are also very descriptive, e.g., when there are two or more persons with the same name, they are often delineated with “Senior” or “Junior” Early tax lists may include dowager widows, or maiden women who own property subject to taxation. In some colonial areas, the earliest tax lists may even indicate the names of orphaned heirs and the court-appointed guardian responsible for paying the orphan’s taxes. As important substitute name lists, any published or online tax lists for an entire state is included in the bibliography. Countywide lists are included if there is a database online.

7. Vital Records. Published or online lists of statewide births, marriages, divorces, and deaths are included in a state’s bibliography. In addition, any lists of obituaries or burials are included. There are several name lists covering each of the U.S. states. County level vital records are included if the database is available online.

8. Voter Lists. A Voter List, Voter Registration List, or List of Eligible Voters, etc., is much like a head of household census, usually giving the name of the qualified voter, and often more information such as the voter’s age, exact place of residence, and more. Unlike tax lists, early voter lists were almost exclusively for males over 21 years of age, until the advent of Women’s Suffrage. Any published or online statewide voter list is included in the bibliography. Countywide lists are included if there is a database online.

National Name Lists Identified

Each of the state name lists books includes a National Chapter, with U.S. Maps, 1763-1940, and a bibliography of U.S. databases. The national name lists came from one of the six (6) categories described below:

1. Federal Census Records. The National Name Lists chapter identifies all federal censuses in great detail. U.S. maps, 1790-1940, add even more insight into the historical setting and show the changing U.S. political boundaries for each census year.

2. Immigration Lists. Records of ships manifests, customs reports, and lists of aliens arriving in the U.S. are all part of the National Name Lists databases. Several national lists are related to specific ethnic groups, such as Germans, Russians, Irish, and Italians arriving in U.S. ports.

3. U.S. Military Lists. Beginning with the Revolutionary War, name lists exist for rosters of men in various state units as well as the Continental Line. Many of the military name lists are for multiple states and military units. The same is true for the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.

4. U.S. Veterans Records. Added to the name lists of active soldiers, sailors, or marines are the name lists of veterans. Databases exist for multiple state units and veterans organizations.

5. U.S. Pension Records. Lists of pensioners from all wars are available, beginning with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Indian Wars, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. These national databases are for multiple states and military units.

6. National Vital Records. Published or online lists of marriages, divorces, and deaths are included in the National Name Lists bibliography. In addition, any lists of obituaries or burials are included. There are several name lists covering the entire U.S., such as Veteran Burials, Find A Grave, and the Social Security Death Index.

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