Ancestry.com announced last week that they have digitized and indexed all of the "readily available" Iowa State census records between 1836 and 1925. Living in "next-door-neighbor" state Missouri, I thought that was good news. I knew I was bound to have the occasion to use this resource at one time or another. That occasion just came sooner than I thought!
I was contacted a few days ago by a researcher from Iowa who was studying the surname KUNZE, which is one of the collateral lines in my HACKMANN research. Not having spent much time on the Kunze line, I took a couple of days to get "up to speed." In the process, I found that some of the Kunze's had moved from Warren County, Missouri to Cass County, Iowa. This gave me my first reason to check out the new digital census images on Ancestry.com.
What a pleasant surprise this was! The first year that I needed was 1915. Expecting to see a typical census page with entries for multiple people, it was surprised to find it in the form of census cards...apparently one for each person. It contains all the usual information that you'd expect to find on the census: name, sex, race, age, birthplace, marital status, occupation, etc. There were a few additional details that I didn't expect. It asked for the total earnings for 1914, and the extent of education, breaking it down between "Common", "Grammar", "High School" and "College." One last item that is helpful from a genealogical standpoint is the question about "Church Affiliation." The answer is typically a denomination, but especially of the person in question is living in a small town, that information gives us a great clue as to where to look for any church records that might be helpful. The only downside I saw to this system is that you have to wait for each person's individual card image to load....it's not possible to look at a whole family at a glance like you can with the "ledger" style of census'. Still, it's a great resource to have.
Next I looked for this person in the 1925 census. What a goldmine! The depth of information provided on this census is unlike any other census I've ever seen. We're used to scrolling across one line on one page for information about one person. But on the 1925 Iowa state census, each person's line stretches across as many as three pages! In addition to the "usual" information collected on censuses you'll also find mother's maiden name and father's full name, their birthplaces and the year of their marriage. Although it's not unusual to find a question about military service, the 1925 census has columns for three wars: the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and the World War...and asks veterans not only which war they served in, but which branch of the service, and what state they enlisted or were drafted from. Great information!
I haven't had the time or the reason to check out the earlier Iowa state censuses yet....and although they aren't as complete as the 1915 ad 1925, it's great to have a resource to pinpoint your Iowans between the Federal censuses. If you have Iowa ancestors and access to Ancestry.com, either at home or through your library, I urge you to investigate this. It may open some previously closed doors.