Census records beginning in 1880 asked for the birthplace of an enumerated person’s parents. If you have a recent immigrant ancestor, or a suspected one, the 1880 and later census records can give you a clue as to whether they were born in the United States or not, and where their parents were born. Although you will still have to follow this information up with confirming records, because the people giving the information on the census may not have told the truth, for their own reasons, or may have unknowingly given incorrect information, based on a tale their parents or grandparents told them. Last names can sometimes give more credence to a stated place of origin on a census record, as Irish, Scottish, German, Russian, and other certain nations have very identifiable-sounding last names. Still, confirming with other records is always a necessity. Like family stories, the location of birth of a person or their parents on a census record is a clue, and a jumping off point for more research.
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