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1740 record in collection for PA Census, 1772-1890

1740 record in collection for PA Census, 1772-1890

Posted: 26 Nov 2012 7:13PM GMT
Classification: Query
I got a hint for my ancestor Henry Rorer in this collection but I'm hesitant to add it. I'm pretty sure it's the right guy but I have records that say he immigrated from Germany to Philadelphia in 1740 and this PA "census" record says 1740 as well. It's entirely possible he was recorded in the same year he arrived but before I attach it, I want to understand the record better and the "learn more" doesn't tell me what I need to know. What kind of record is it exactly? A tax list? And why is it turning up a 1740 record in a collection for 1772-1890 to begin with? Any insight from anyone would be appreciated.

I'm not one of those people who just blindly adds hints to my tree. I want to know what I'm adding and ACOM hasn't made it clear. I suspect new records were added to this collection and the title and details were never updated.

I wasn't sure where to post this though, since it's not a federal census but the collection does claim to be a census.

Re: 1740 record in collection for PA Census, 1772-1890

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 1:36PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 27 Nov 2012 1:39PM GMT
According to Ancestry.com's pop-up description of this database, it was uploaded in 1998 and has not been updated since then.

You have probably put your finger on the source of this purported "census" item -- a list of names from the published Philadelphia passenger lists' index together with year-dates.

Ancestry.com has a lot of such poorly compiled and barely described databases. Don't ask me about the purported Delaware marriages index that thankfully was removed a few years ago. In this case, all of the crucial data has been stripped away from the database (nature and title of the source, particulars as to date, embarkation and arrival points, ship name, etc.).

These approaches to source records are very confusing for all but very experienced researchers, and contribute to discouragement.

Recently Ancestry.com stripped away actual document-type descriptions and component names from its extracts of the Sussex County, DE Calendar of Wills (a mistitled book in any case) -- which includes abstracts of a large variety of estate documents in addition to wills. So now those who run across these entries think that thousands of persons who died in DE before 1801 made wills, who did not leave wills. Those who take the next step and try to obtain copies of such documents from the DE Public Archives will encounter Archives staff who may by now be frustrated and peeved by inquiries insisting that the nonexistent document must be there somewhere because "Ancestry says so."

Re: 1740 record in collection for PA Census, 1772-1890

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 2:02PM GMT
Classification: Query
Thanks for the info, I never considered that it might actually be a passenger list masquerading as a "census".

Re: 1740 record in collection for PA Census, 1772-1890

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 5:59PM GMT
Classification: Query
It is Ancestry.com conducting the masquerade, not the passenger list! There are other purported "reconstructed" or "early census" items that include stuff like names from a letter, a militia list, or obscure tax assessment lists.

A "reconstructed" census using other data has a little bit of logic, when a census enumeration did exist but has been significantly lost. However, it is much more sensible to present the original data for what it was -- and immensely more useful if all of the original data is included together with a proper citation.
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