From Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011 I know that in 1870 my 4th great grandfather Hugh Sellars was living or at least running a variety store at 311 Washington Ave, Albany City, New York State, USA.

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According to the same U.S. City Directories he had been there since at least 1864 and stayed there until at least 1872. However, while I have found him in the 1865 New York State Census, I have not been able to locate him in the 1870 Federal Census.

Using my subscription to Ancestry.com, or any other means, is it possible to determine which image(s) from the 1870 Federal Census I should be trying to look at?

My problem seems to be the opposite of that in How to find address of building in New York State censuses (1870, St Lawrence, USA)?

3 Answers 3


For descriptions of census subdivisions and enumeration districts, see the following resources:

An article on the Iowa USGenWeb site, Enumeration District Descriptions and Maps says:

The title of T1224 contains a misnomer because EDs, strictly defined, were not used until the 1880 census. The early censuses used the term subdivision to refer to part of a supervisor's or marshal's division or district. Subdivisions in the early censuses comprised towns, townships, or other units comparable to MCDs.

MCD is a US Census Bureau abbreviation for Minor civil division.

Other resources:

Using a combination of maps and information from city directories and other records that give street addresses, you can narrow down the possibilities for the sheet you need.

  • I've accepted this answer because I am confident that the systematic approach it espouses would have been far more effective in 95% of cases than the lucky strike in my answer.
    – PolyGeo
    Apr 19, 2015 at 9:26
  • @PolyGeo the most effective approach is to use both techniques together. I've used Stephen P. Morse's One-Step Web Pages to make searches by first name only and an age range many, many times.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 19, 2015 at 19:55

I don't believe this is possible for US Fed. Census records prior to 1880. Before that census, the records don't indicate the addresses of the individuals.

Beginning in 1880 they do start to include street address information and you can use a tool like http://stevemorse.org/census/unified.html to identify which Enumeration District an address was in, and then open up the Ancestry viewer from this site for the pertinent information,

  • 2
    I think what I may try to do is look through the directory for someone not far from 311 Washington and see if I can find them in the census to get within an image or few that way.
    – PolyGeo
    Apr 3, 2015 at 9:35

I just made a very lucky strike by using an Ancestry search for anyone named Mary (Hugh's wife's name), born 1805+/-5 years, from England, in Albany Ward 9 of the 1870 Federal Census. Looking at Results 1–20 of 173,778 returned by the search, I was almost not bothered to go to the next page when I saw:

Mary Sallan Albany Subdivision 335, Albany, New York abt 1804 England

I viewed the record to see:

Hugh Sallan 67
Mary Sallan 66
Caroline Foster 12
Henry A Elliot  25

Caroline was also in the household of Hugh and Mary for the 1865 New York State Census and Hugh's occupation is given as Variety Store so I am very confident that this is the record I was after.

The image is quite difficult to read, and may lead to me asking a separate question or two, but Hugh's birthplace had been incorrectly transcribed as Ireland when I read it as the expected Scotland.

The source citation is:

Year: 1870; Census Place: Albany Subdivision 335, Albany, New York; Roll: M593_899; Page: 676B; Image: 620; Family History Library Film: 552398

  • 1
    Now that you know you are looking for Subdivision 335, you can look for a map to see what streets are in that subdivision.
    – Jan Murphy
    Apr 3, 2015 at 17:21

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