Yet even with the indexes that are available some family members seem to be impossible to find in a census. There are many possible reasons they can't be found. Some of them are:
- the hand writing by the enumerator is atrocious
- the original microfilm was of poor quality
- the original pages were damaged
- the enumerator had no clue on how the name was spelled by the family
- the person of interest has left the country or has died
- the person's name may have changed due to marriage or due to "legal" issues
Some possible suggestions are:
- Search for the household as a group but leave off their surname.
- Search for the youngest member of the household at the time of the census. Usually their age will be the most accurate.
- Don't include the age or birth year of the person. For some reason it is not uncommon for women to not be exactly truthful when answering questions about their age.
- Restrict the search to only a specific district, sub-district or town where they are believed to be living at the time of the census. This may reduce the number of possible names to look at to a manageable size.
- If all else fails a page by page examination of the digitized images of an area may be necessary. Sort of an old school/new school approach.
First & Middle Name: Elizabeth AnnNote that in this case I left off the surname for Elizabeth Ann Finnie but I did include her known birth year. The first match returned was a transcription for the household of Arthur Francise with wife Elizabeth, daughter Margaret and lodger Thompson Officer.
Birth Year: 1881
Birth Location: Ontario, Canada
Keyword: Windsor [Exact match checked]
This is why being able to examine the image of the census record in question is so important.
Looking at the image, at least to my eyes, the surname isn't "Francise" but is "Finnie", the family I am looking for.
So don't give up when searching for those family members apparently missing from the census. You may just need to be a little creative in your searches.