I do indexing of records on FamilySearch. I've come across something a bit confusing to me, as a newer indexer.

enter image description here

This image is from the Native American Census Rolls 1885-1940.

  • Reservation: Blackfeet Indian
  • Jurisdiction/Agency: Blackfeet, Montana
  • Census Year: 1934

There is a record that is crossed out. No current or previous census number is written.

What could 'nE' in the census number column mean?

  • I removed the palaeography tag because my understanding is that should only be applied to handwriting, and added three tags which I think may be more relevant.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 0:23
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    @PolyGeo My answer is perhaps not an answer, but it's too long for a comment.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 0:27
  • Could 'nE' stand for 'non-existing'? I.e. no number or error record? Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 8:09

2 Answers 2


In a footnote in Kirsty Gover's Tribal Constitutionalism (p 122), citing an interview with genealogist Rita Souther, the author notes that N.E. stood for Not Eligible:

Some base rolls exclude non-Indians recorded on the basic roll, for instance by identifying those recorded as 'N.E.', or 'Not Eligible', indicating that the person was deemed to not be eligible for allotment.

However, Gover adds that according to Mary Frances Morrow article on BIA Indian Census Rolls, she has explained that N.E. stood for Not Enrolled:

It was considered helpful to indicate the number for the person on the previous year's census. Persons also could be designated by a number peculiar to that reservation, if it was explained somewhere, or they could be listed as "N.E.", or “Not Enrolled.” In the 1930s, sometimes only supplemental rolls showing the additions and deletions from the previous year were submitted.

I am inclined to agree with Morrow that it was meant to stand for Not Enrolled, as I can find several examples from other Indian census rolls where the words "Not enrolled" are included in the absence of any number. For example, this 1925 census roll for the Chippewa Indians shows:

enter image description here

It is always worth looking at the instructions given to the enumerator. In this case they can be found near the start of the film. Unfortunately the abbreviation 'N.E.' is not mentioned, but the first instruction is suggestive that it may stand for Not Enrolled:

(A) A separate roll is to be made of each reservation; also, of each rancheria or reserve, and a separate roll of Indians allotted on the public domain or homesteading. The roll is to be based on enrollment and not on residence.

Though it appears not to be relevant in this case, it is also worth adding that my first thought was that N.E. might be the initials of the person who made the ammendment. In my experience with English records, when a change or correction was made on (for example) a birth or baptism certificate, the vicar or registrar would often initial the correction.


This question isn't a good fit for this site. We can't tell you how FamilySearch would like you to index this record -- only FamilySearch can do that.

"What does the 'nE' in the census number column mean?" is a very good question to ask, but you haven't told us what kind of record this is, or what the batch is, or anything that would help us to identify this record.

If you know what kind of record it is, and who holds the originals (where FamilySearch had to go in order to film the record), then you can check the website of the repository to see if they have a reference paper or a scope and content statement that will explain what the abbreviations are. But I can't help you find a reference paper for a document when I don't know what it is. Presumably this is from a Dawes roll, but even my guess is right, any answer I could give about how the record should be indexed would only be my opinion.

I would suggest that you ask FamilySearch, and to gain more experience, to take the Indexing Workshops that are given by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. You can find the schedule for the Workshops on the Wiki, in the article Family History Library Classes and Webinars. Go to the section marked Indexing Webinars and click on where it says [show] to open up that section. The Family History Library uses Adobe Connect as its webinar platform, and you can get help on using Adobe Connect here: Quickstart Guide for Participants.

Edited to add: My guess that this might be from a Dawes roll was a bad guess:

US National Archive guide on the Dawes Roll says:

Lists of people accepted between 1898 and 1914 by the Dawes Commission as members of these five Indian tribes: Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole

This image has Blackfeet / Sioux so it must be a different record group.

See the National Archives's page Researching Native American Heritage > Researching an Individual or Family for an overview of record groups held at NARA. It is possible that this is part of NARA's publication m595, Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940. See: FamilySearch Wiki: American Indian Census Rolls, and U.S., Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940 at Ancestry.

  • 1
    I have linked to the DP for m595 in case we modify the question and take out the "how should I index this?" component. Asking how to interpret the information on the record is a good fit for the site, but it would simplify things considerably if we knew what the record was.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 0:46
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    I will add more info about the record for you. Sorry for not doing that, I'm new to this. Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 1:13
  • 1
    That's okay. If you aren't comfortable with editing yet, add a comment to your question and we can add it for you.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 5:47

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