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Collection: Census Guide

1790 Census Guide – Questions & Information

Due to it’s early nature the 1790 census provides the littlest of “meat” for the genealogist as it only names the head of the household and provides a range of ages for all other occupants of the house . The content of the census directly indicates the name of the head of household, and the location of the family, but indirectly can be used to direct future research.

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United States Census Guide

The most popular use of the census is to trace family history. No other source matches the census record’s ability to place people in a certain place at a certain time or to provide such a detailed picture of lives and lifestyles at given intervals. The promise of that picture, and of seeing it clearly, keeps researchers going against all odds. Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do the U.S. federal censuses. The population schedules are successive “snapshots” of Americans that depict where and how they were living at particular periods in the past. Census records since 1850 suggest dates and places of birth, relationships, family origins, changes in residence, schooling, occupations, economic and citizenship status, and more. While some inaccuracies are to be expected in census records, they still provide some of the most fascinating and useful pieces of personal history to be found in any source. If nothing else, census records are important sources for placing individuals in specific places at specific times. Additionally, information found in the census will often point to other sources critical to completing research, such as court, land, military, immigration, naturalization, and vital records. The importance of census records does not diminish over time in any given research project. It is always wise to return to these records as discoveries are made in other sources...

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1910 Census Guide – Questions & Information

Under the provisions of the census act of July 2, 1909, the thirteenth census was administered. In accordance with the provisions of the act, general population and Indian population schedules were prepared. The schedules used for Hawaii and Puerto Rico, although similar to the general population schedule, differed slightly from those used within the United States. Census enumerators began canvassing the Nation on April 15, 1910. The law gave census takers 2 weeks to complete their work in cities of 5,000 inhabitants or more, while enumerators in smaller and rural areas were allotted 30 days to complete their task. The 1910 census covered the following states: Alabama Alaska (unorganized) Arizona Territory Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico Territory New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Information Found Within the 1910 Census Name of each person. Name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family resides Age Sex Color (Race) Birthplace Whether married in the last year Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over 15 years of age Value of Real Estate Whether deaf, blind, dumb, insane, idiotic, pauper,...

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1900 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The twelfth census of the United States was conducted under the terms of the census act of March 3, 1899, and supervised by the Director of the Census, William R. Merriam. The enumeration was conducted in each state and organized territory, including Washington, DC, Alaska, Hawaii, and “Indian Territory.” The census was taken as of June 1, 1900, and was to be completed in 2 weeks in places of 8,000 inhabitants or more (as of the 1890 Census) and 1 month in rural districts. The United States and its territories were divided into 297 supervisors’ districts, which were subdivided into 52,726 enumeration districts. The enumeration of military and naval personnel (within the country and abroad) was conducted through the Departments of War and the Navy. Similarly, the enumeration of the “Indian Territory” was carried out in cooperation with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Large institutions (prisons, hospitals, etc.) were enumerated through the appointment of special “institution” enumerators. Enumerators were much more closely supervised during the 1900 Census. In large cities, special agents were appointed to assist the census supervisor. Enumerators used “street books,” in which a record of each enumerator’s work was made on a daily basis. Enumerators used individual census slips for obtaining a correct return for any person (particularly lodgers and boarders) absent at the time of the enumerator’s visit. Additionally, “absent family” schedules were used for...

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1890 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The census of 1890 was taken, under the supervision of Robert P. Porter,14 according to an act of March 1, 1889, and modeled after that used for the 1880 Census. The enumeration began on June 2, 1890, because June 1 was a Sunday. The census employed 175 supervisors, with one or more appointed to each state or territory, exclusive of Alaska and Indian territory. Each subdivision assigned to an enumerator was not to exceed 4,000 inhabitants. Enumeration was to be completed in cities with populations under 10,000 (according to the 1880 Census results) was to be completed within 2 weeks. Enumerators were required to collect all the information required by the act by a personal visit to each dwelling and family. As in 1880, experts and special agents were hired to make special enumerations of manufactures,15 Indians living within the jurisdiction of the United States, and a separate enumeration of Alaska. Furthermore, the schedule collecting social statistics was withdrawn from enumerators; the work of obtaining statistics concerning mines and mining, fisheries, churches, education, insurance, transportation, and wealth, debt, and taxation, also was conducted by experts and special agents. Robert P. Porter was appointed as Superintendent of Census by the President on April 17, 1889. He resigned the position on July 31, 1893. In 1890, the manufactures schedules were withdrawn from the general enumeration for 1,042 “important” manufacturing centers (opposed...

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1880 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The 1880 census was carried out under a law enacted March 3, 1879. Additional amendments to the law were made on April 20, 1880, and appropriations made on June 16, 1880—16 days after the actual enumeration had begun. The new census law specifically handed over the supervision of the enumeration to a body of officers, known as supervisors of the census, specifically chosen for the work of the census, and appointed in each state or territory, of which they should be residents before March 1, 1880. Each supervisor was responsible for recommending the organization of his district for enumeration, choosing enumerators for the district and supervising their work, reviewing and transmitting the returns from the enumerators to the central census office, and overseeing the compensation for enumerators in each district. Each enumerator was required by law “to visit personally each dwelling house in his subdivision, and each family therein, and each individual living out of a family in any place of abode, and by inquiry made of the head of such family, or of the member thereof deemed most credible and worthy of trust, or of such individual living out of a family, to obtain each and every item of information and all the particulars.” In case no one was available at a family’s usual place of abode, the enumerator was directed by the law “to obtain the required...

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1870 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The 1870 census commenced on June 1, 1870, and was taken under the provisions of the census act of May 23, 1850. 12 The Secretary of Interior appointed General Francis A. Walker Superintendent of the Ninth Census on February 7, 1870. Although the 1870 Census was under the 1850 act, a new bill approved on May 6, 1870, made the following changes: The marshals were to submit the returns from “schedule 1” (free inhabitants) to the Census Office by September 10, 1870. All other schedules were to be submitted by October 1, 1870. The 1850 law authorizing penalties for refusing to reply to the inquiries was expanded to apply to all inquiries made by enumerators. Redesigned schedules used for 1870 and the omission of a “slave” schedule made possible several additional inquiries as follows: General Population Schedule. This schedule collected data from the entire population of the United States. Mortality. This schedule collected data on persons who died during the year. In addition to the 1860 inquiries, inquiries were modified to include Schedule 1’s additions to collect data on parentage and to differentiate between Chinese and American Indians. Inquiries concerning “free or slave” status and “number of days ill” were discontinued. Agriculture. The 1860 inquiries were used with additional requests for (1) acreage of woodland, (2) production of Spring and Winter wheat, (3) livestock sold for slaughter, (4) total...

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1860 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The Eighth Census of the United States was authorized by the previous census May 23, 1850 act. On the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior, the provisions of this act were to be “adhered to, following the requirement for the taking of the eighth, or any subsequent census under its provisions, if no law, therefore, was passed before January 1 of the year in which the census was required.1” By an act of May 5, 1860, a clerical force was provided for the census office and on June 1, 1860, and Joseph C. G. Kennedy was appointed Superintendent. The census office, and the position of Superintending Clerk were (for all practical purpose) abolished in May 1862. A portion of the clerks engaged in census work were transferred to the General Land Office, where the work of the 1860 census was completed, including the publication of a two-volume census report, under the direction of the Commissioner of the General Land Office. The 1860 census covered the following states: Alabama Arkansas California Connecticut Dakota Territory* Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Illinois Indiana Indian Territory** Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Nebraska New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico Territory New York North Carolina Ohio Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina Tennessee Texas Utah Territory Vermont Virginia Washington Territory Wisconsin Schedules for some counties are missing....

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1850 Census Guide – Questions & Information

In March 1849, Congress enacted a bill establishing a census board, whose membership consisted of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Postmaster General. This board was “to prepare and cause to be printed such forms and schedules as may be necessary for the full enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States; and also proper forms and schedules for collecting in statistical tables, under proper heads, such information as to mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, education, and other topics as will exhibit a full view of the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country.” The Congress also authorized the creation of the Department of the Interior in March 1849, and part of the enabling act provided that the Secretary of the Interior should “exercise all the supervisory and appellate powers now exercised by the Secretary of State in relation to all acts of marshals and others in taking and returning the census of the United States.” The seventh census was governed by the provisions of an act of May 23, 1850, which directed that six schedules be used to collect the information requested by the Congress. The enumeration began on June 1, 1850, and was to be completed, with the results returned to the Secretary of the Interior by November 1, 1850. The Census Board prepared and printed six schedules for the 1850 census as follows:...

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1840 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The sixth census was governed by the same general provisions of law as in 1830. Under the provisions of an act of March 3, 1839 (and amended by an act of February 26, 1840), the enumeration began on June 1, 1840. Marshals were to receive two copies of the census receipts from enumerators by November 1, 1840, one of which was to be sent to the Secretary of State by December 1, 1840. Again, as a result of delays, the deadlines for assistants and marshals were extended to May 1 and June 1, 1841, respectively. (The January 14, 1841 act extending these deadlines also provided for the re-enumeration of Montgomery County, Maryland, [due to discrepancies in the reports], to begin on June 1, 1841, and to be completed, with receipts returned, by October 1, 1841.) No population questionnaire was prescribed by the Congress—the design of the questionnaire was left to the discretion of the Secretary of State, and closely followed that used in 1830. The law did specify the inquiries to be made of each household. The 1840 census covered the following states: Alabama Arkansas Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Territory Georgia Illinois Indiana Iowa Territory Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Mississippi Missouri New Hampshire New Jersey New York North Carolina Ohio Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina Tennessee Vermont Virginia Wisconsin Territory I have not found any...

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1830 Census Guide – Questions & Information

Prior to the passage of the census act authorizing the fifth census in 1830, President Adams, in his fourth address to the U.S. Congress on December 28, 1828, suggested the census commence earlier in the year than August 1. He also proposed that the collection of age data should be extended from infancy, in intervals of 10 years, to the “utmost boundaries of life”. These changes were incorporated into the census act of March 23, 1830. As in the previous census, the enumeration was made by an actual inquiry by the marshals or assistants at every dwelling house, or, as the law stated, by “personal” inquiry of the head of every family, and began on June 1 (instead of the first Monday of August as in previous censuses.) The assistants were required to transmit their returns to the marshals of their respective districts by December 1, 1830. Marshals filed these returns and the aggregate counts for their respective districts to the Secretary of State, by February 1, 1831. However, because of delays in the compilation of the census returns, the filing date was extended to August 1, 1831. The 1830 census concerned the population only. No attempt was made to collect additional data on the Nation’s manufactures and industry. The 1830 census covered the following states: Alabama Arkansas Territory Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Territory Georgia Illinois Indiana***...

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1820 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The fourth census was taken under the provisions of an act of March 14, 1820. The enumeration began on the first Monday of August, and was scheduled to conclude within 6 calendar months; however, the time prescribed for completing the enumeration was extended to September 1, 1821. The 1820 census act required that enumeration should be by an actual inquiry at every dwelling house, or of the head of every family within each district. As in 1810, the 1820 census attempted to collect industrial statistics. Data relating to manufactures were collected by the assistants, sent to the marshals, and then transmitted to the Secretary of State at the same time as the population returns. The report on manufactures presented the data for manufacturing establishments by counties, but the results were not summarized for each district and an aggregate statement was compiled as a result of incomplete returns. (The poor quality of manufacturing data was blamed partly on insufficient compensation for the collection of the data and the refusal of manufacturers to supply it). The schedule of inquiries for 1820 called for the same age distribution of the free White population, as in 1800 and 1810, with the addition in 1820 of the number of free White males between 16 and 18 years. It also provided for a separation of the number of free colored persons and of slaves, respectively,...

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