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JanW.
11-09-2007, 09:43 PM
Clues that may be found in Census Records, 1790 – 1840:
(Source: NARA website; www.archives.gov)

The census records from 1790-1840 named only the head of household, but it did report the age of each member. The ages of others were reported in categories:

Example:
Under 10 years of age
Of 10, and under 16
Of 16 and under 26,
Of 26 and under 45,
Of 45 and upwards

These categories were reported for both free white males and females.

The 1840 census reports the name and exact age of Revolutionary War pensioners.

This information will alert the researcher to look for Revolutionary War military service and/or pension records. (These records can be ordered from the National Archives, and how to do so will be discussed in future lessons).

Elderly persons usually resided with family, so the fact that the pensioner lived in this household will be a clue that he is probably related to someone in the household.

The 1820 and 1830 Census mention persons not naturalized. This should alert the researcher to check into immigration records and naturalization records.

The 1810 and 1820 Census contains questions about manufacturing and agriculture. In addition to the 1820 Census there is Records of the 1820 Census of Manufactures. (M279 record group and it is 27 Rolls.

Once you learn your way around the census (and the census takers ;) you will see that the census will give clues as to what other record groups you may search for additional clues.

The census records from 1850 to present change quite a bit and I will be posting that record group soon. Remember to ask any questions you may have.

Clues that may be found in Census Records, 1850 - 1930:
(Source: NARA website; www.archives.gov)


1850 Census:
With this Census, each person in the household is listed by name;
Their age is indicated;
State or Country of birth is indicated;
Indicates whether the person was married within the year;
Value of Real property is listed (column 8)
Occupation is indicated


1860 Census:
Person’s age is indicated;
State or Country of birth is indicated;
Indicates whether the person was married within the year;


1870 Census:
Person’s age is indicated, if born within the year the month is given;
State or Country of birth is indicated;
Indicates whether the person was married within the year;
Has a check mark for Male Citizens of the U.S. 21 years of age and upwards.
(If this person was foreign-born, that meant he had to become naturalized by 1870)
Has check marks if parents were of foreign birth

1880 Census:
Person’s age is indicated, if born within the year, the month is given;
State or Country of birth is indicated;
Relationship to the heads of the family indicated
Indicates whether the person was married within the year;
Indicates persons’ parents’ birthplaces


1890 Census:
General Schedules were destroyed by fire.
Supplemental schedules for Union veterans or the Civil War and their widows are available.



1900 Census:
Month and Year of Person’s birth
Relationship to the heads of the family indicated
Indicates the number of years each person has been married
Indicates how many children were born to each woman
Indicates how many of those children are still living (at census taking)
Indicates the person’s year of immigration to the United States
Indicates the person’s naturalization status Al – Alien; Pa – first papers;
Na – Naturalized
Indicates whether the person Owned (O) or Rented (R) the home or farm.
Indicates whether the person owns with a mortgage (M) or free of mortgage (F)
Indicates persons’ parents’ birthplaces


1910 Census:
Person’s age is indicated;
Relationship to the heads of the family indicated
State or Country of birth is indicated;
Indicates the number of years each person has been married;
Indicates how many children were born to each woman
Indicates how many of those children are still living (at census taking)
Indicates the person’s year of immigration to the United States
Indicates the person’s naturalization status Al – Alien; Pa – first papers; Na – Naturalized
Indicates persons’ parents’ birthplaces
Asks whether the person was a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy
Indicates whether the person Owned (O) or Rented (R) the home or farm.
Indicates whether the person owns with a mortgage (M) or free of mortgage (F)

1920 Census:
Person’s age is indicated;
Relationship to the heads of the family indicated
State or Country of birth is indicated;
Indicates the person’s year of immigration to the United States
Indicates the person’s naturalization status Al – Alien; Pa – first papers; Na – Naturalized
Indicates the year in which person was naturalized
Indicates persons’ parents’ birthplaces
Indicates whether the person Owned (O) or Rented (R) the home or farm.
Indicates whether the person owns with a mortgage (M) or free of mortgage (F)

1930 Census:
Person’s age is indicated;
Relationship to the heads of the family indicated
State or Country of birth is indicated;
Indicates the person’s year of immigration to the United States
Indicates the person’s naturalization status Al – Alien; Pa – first papers; Na – Naturalized
Indicates persons’ parents’ birthplaces
Civil War Veteran indicated with CW
Indicates military service in other wars with:
Sp – Spanish American War
Phil – Philippine Insurrection
Box – Boxer Rebellion
Mex – Mexican Expedition
WW – World War I
Indicates whether the person Owned (O) or Rented (R) the home or farm.
Indicates the value of home, if owned or the monthly rental, if rented.

As you can see, there is much information here to digest. I reserve the right to edit in case I've missed something. Comments and questions are welcome. I will post a link soon so that you might try to view an actual census sheet. They are interesting to say the least.

I hope these lessons are helping some of you understand genealogy a little better.

scrappinmama
11-11-2007, 12:09 PM
I think the main thing to remember about the census is that it should be taken with a grain of salt. Most of my clients have said something like this: "this was on the census, so I know it's true." You can NOT assume that everything you get off the census is correct. There are some factors involved here:

1. Who was giving the census taker the information?
Often times the adults in the home were out, and the children in the house gave the information to the taker; or someone else other than the heads of the house. Or the family was not at home and the neighbor provided the information.

2. Was the census taker concise in his recording?
Often times, the census taker would be anxious to get home, and would write down what he heard and not verify that he heard correctly. I have an ancestor with the last name HATT but when the taker heard it, he heard HOT and that's what he wrote down.

3. Did the taker assume information?
Many times the family did not know the information or was unwilling to give it so the taker would assume things and write it down.

The census is an invaluable guide in research, but should NOT be used as a primary source of information.

JanW.
11-11-2007, 09:58 PM
Paula,

You have made some very valid points. This is the reason that I keep repeating to *verify* the information that you find on a document. The Census is a wonderful tool, and each census after 1840 has unique things that are useful. I will be posting those in the next day or so and hopefully they will be helpful to everyone.

Leslie
11-16-2007, 10:38 AM
Ancestry.com has blank census forms available for FREE for every census year in US that has been released and for many census years for England as well. The forms are very helpful to record the infomation off the censuses.

Tip: Record each family on a different page, so you can record that page with that family's group information.

Tip: Save the forms onto a CD or an external drive so that when you need to print out more copies you don't need to get on the Internet every time. A plus for those of us with dial-up connections!

Ancestry also has other useful forms as well, including family group sheets. However, I use group sheets that I designed myself (use Excel or another spreadsheet program) combining things from many different family group sheets. There are many FREE genealogy forms on the Internet. Just do a search for Free genealogy forms and find the ones that suit you best!

scrappinmama
11-23-2007, 12:35 AM
You make good suggrstions. I actually have a 2 inch binder full of various forms that I use. I have census forms, pedigree charts, family group sheets, research logs etc. in there so that when I'm researching, all I have to do is grab the forms binder and take one. It comes in real handy.

TrishF
11-26-2007, 07:51 PM
It does get really difficult when you go back before the 1850 census since much of this information isn't spelled out for you as clearly. I'm glad we all agree that verification is so important.

Marvelyn
12-21-2007, 12:56 PM
I agree with everything that was said. I only use the census as a guide for further exploration. It can give us a hint as to something we were not aware of before. Sometimes, we can find the wife's mother living with them and that can give you the wife's possible maiden name. Other things like that can lead to more discoveries.

I love genealogy and have done a lot of research. My sister is more involved in it than I am but I do love it.