Category Archives: great lakes

Great Lakes States – State and Territorial Censuses

I spoke on Wednesday at the National Genealogical Society Conference on “The Third Coast: How the Great Lakes Shaped America.” This lecture really just skims the surface of  topics one would need to know to do effective research in the Great Lakes States. (I put together this lecture and realized I had a lot to say on the subject and gave me the idea to develop an entire course on the subject.)

One thing I wish I had more time to discuss is the use of State and Territorial censuses in Great Lakes research. The following map I colorized to demonstrate the Great Lakes states that held state-level censuses, typically on “the fives” (e.g. 1855, 1865, and so on).


The states in green held state censuses, those in orange did not. Indiana (in yellow) did, but they are scattered or no longer exist. So, of the eight Great Lakes States, five of them offer this extra set of records that other states do not.

I share with you two resources for further study on this topic:

To make things a little easier, I have collated the information from both of these sources, as well as that from the appropriate state archives, to create a useful table regarding only the Great Lakes States. (Click here to download a PDF.)

So, if you had not considered whether or not your Great Lakes ancestors had been captured on a state or territorial census, I hope the above resources help you figure that out. Happy searching!

Great Lakes Course Prep

I’ve been working diligently to prepare for the course I am co-leading with Kathryn Lake Hogan, that will take place in January, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Click here to read more about the course.)

Whenever I create a new lecture, I invariably learn new resources that I can add to the information I already planned on sharing or am reminded of things I’ve forgotten or don’t utilize as much in my own research. This course’s prep is no different. I have gathered a lot of information and resources that I plan on sharing with the students in the class. I thought I’d share two of those bits of information.

  • While looking at WorldCat for a copy of Lloyd Bockstruck’s book Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awarded by State Governments published in 1996, at a library near me, I discovered that it is available as an e-book through Ancestry(subscription required).
  • I struggled to locate how many homesteads were successfully completed in each state, in a handy, already-created table. Then I found this fun lesson plan put together by the National Park Service. I put that information together in a chart focusing on the Great Lakes States:

I’m having a fun time putting this information together to highlight the Great Lakes region and I do hope you will consider joining us in January! To register, visit the SLIG website.