ABCs of Family History: F


is for family art. This term includes art pieces (1) collected by an ancestor and (2) created by an ancestor. For example, the following piece was created by my dad during his college years.

Family art is valuable because it can shed some light on your ancestor’s personality. Several studies have shown that certain personalities are drawn to particular art styles. For example, more outgoing, romantic folks tend to gravitate toward modern art. Here’s a handy table that summarizes some of the more common art styles and corresponding personality types.

Art StylePersonality Types
AbstractCreative; extroverted; open-minded
CubismControversial; open-minded; provocative; shocking
ImpressionismAgreeable; avoids conflict; conscientious; mediator
ModernAmiable; open-minded; outgoing; romantic
Pop ArtFall in love easily; fun-loving; optimistic; vibrant
RenaissanceConservative; prefer the simpler things in life
TraditionalConservative; mature; rule-follower; won’t rock the boat

Do any of these ring true with your ancestors and the art they preferred? Tell me about it in the comments below. It could be that your ancestors merely collected pieces that were in vogue during their lifetimes.

Also, if you have family art, why not share it? I guarantee that future generations will come to cherish those pieces and their collectors/creators. Your genealogy “to-do” for this month is to photograph (or scan) any family art pieces you have and upload the images to the “Memories” section of your FamilySearch account (or to whatever genealogy program you use). I promise you won’t regret it.

ABCs of Family History: E


is for enumeration. Enumeration, or the process of counting people, is crucial to genealogical research because it ultimately results in a census. (For more on census records, click here.) In the U.S., enumeration occurs every 10 years, and the next round starts in 2020. (Census Day is officially 4/1/20.)

How does the enumeration process work? It starts with an invitation from the U.S. Census Bureau. 95% of households will receive this invitation in the mail. Almost 5% of households will receive it in person from a census taker. The remaining households (mostly in remote areas) won’t receive an invitation; instead, they will be counted in person by a census taker. Each of these categories is assigned to a Type of Enumeration Area (TEA). To see what category your geographic area is assigned to, check out the TEA Viewer.

Households assigned to the self-response TEA will have the option to provide data online, by mail, or by phone. According to the Census Bureau, information provided by households is kept confidential and is used only to produce statistics. The information is never shared with immigration enforcement agencies, the FBI, or local police. However, census records are released to the general public 72 years after Census Day. So, the next census scheduled to be released (1950) will be available in April 2022.

The enumeration process benefits more than family historians. It also—

  • determines how many representatives each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • is used to redraw district boundaries. (Redistricting counts are sent to the states by 3/31/21.)
  • is used by communities to plan for new roads, schools, and emergency services.
  • is used by businesses to plan for new retail areas.
  • is used by federal agencies to distribute federal funds.

Are you dreading next year’s enumeration process? It shouldn’t be too bad. The Census Bureau will be using existing public data to reduce follow-up visits. It also is automating field operations to make the process more efficient. And think of it this way—the information you provide next year will benefit family historians for generations to come.