Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WORKDAY WEDNESDAY ~ Can I do a better job listing occupations in my database?

blacksmith linenweaver Railway Workers in the 1900's
Here’s the question I asked my self today.  How many people in my Legacy database have occupations associated with their data?  

Recording occupations should be one of the easiest things we do?  Right?

I mean, we review and record all those census records, most of which contain occupations.  We have death records, obituaries, probate and marriage records which can contain occupations.

The question is… we record them?

Why is this important?  What can we gain from knowing an ancestors occupation?
  • It gives us an insight as to what their financial circumstances might have been.
  • We can use it to gauge whether the John Gould listed in the 1880 census as a Carpenter, could also be the John Gould listed as a Bank Clerk or Lawyer in the 1900 census.  Would the occupation have changed that much?
  • We can use it to determine an identity based on others with the same profession, in the same area.  I found one of my husband’s family members this way.  He was a glass blower, which isn’t a common profession.
  • Perhaps the occupation would mean our ancestor belonged to an organization associated with the profession.  In that case, would there be publications I could find him/her in?
  • Is this a family profession?  Did the parent or do the children have the same occupation?
  • Did the occupation mean the ancestor and family would be moving around a lot.  Such is the case with itinerant preachers, railroad employees, farmers and others.
  • Was the occupation dangerous?  I’ve had ancestors who died at work.
These are just some of the reasons I believe it’s important to record the occupation of our ancestors.
I wanted to see how well I’ve done so I ran a report with Legacy 8 using the search feature.

I not only list occupations as I find them on various census & other records, but also have a separate entry for “occupation at time of death.”  I searched with both criteria.

Here is my search screen.

occupation -1

The resulting list told me that I have 187 individuals with occupation or occupation at time of death, associated with them.

Let’s run the numbers.

- My Legacy 8 database contains 4869 individuals
- That means that I only have occupations recorded for about 2.6% of those individuals.
- Now let’s take a look at how many of the 4869 in my database are males.

Taking into account that until World War II, most women did not work outside the home. 
I have 2548 males.  This means my percentage is a bit better and goes up to 13.6%.
Can I improve these numbers?  Absolutely!

Will doing so provide more information and leads in my research?  Yes.

Should I record every occupation from each census and other record separately?  I’m not certain on this one.  Perhaps only record another occupation if it is different from the one I have?

What do you do?  How do you record occupations?  Do you record them?

What discoveries have you made by following someone’s occupation?


Legacy 8 Search Function - What Can You Find?  I used "Occupation" as an example

Occupation Files on Ancestry - 1600-1995 - Have you seen these?

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall


  1. I confess I've been sporadic about it. Sometimes I have included it in the notes section too, so I haven't been consistent about the way I record it even when I do. I have one ancestor who was a turner and another who was a blacksmith and their occupations helped me sort them out a few times so I know the value of knowing their occupation, but this post makes me think I need to find a better way to record it.

    1. You and me both Michelle. As my numbers attest. I read about your issues with Parallels and hope they've been resolved. Posting "occupation" in the Events area of Legacy seems to me to be the best way to keep track, have it show up in Chronology and be easily found in searches.
      Thanks for stopping by.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.