All about Census Records: Becoming an Expert Presented by George G. Morgan

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1 All about Census Records: Becoming an Expert Presented by George G. Morgan What Is A Census?! A census is an official count of a population carried out at set intervals! Used for: o Legislative representation o Taxation and funding o Analysis of trends o Planning Understanding the Census! The Federal censuses are the most-used documents used by genealogists o Best finding aid of all o Primary source to establish a person at a specific place at a point in time o Assumed to be definitive proof o Definitely are secondary sources o Pointers to other evidence Origin of the U.S. Census! The U.S. Constitution (ratified 1789) established the taking of a national census on a regular basis! Article I, Section 2, specifically called for a census to be taken every ten years! Direct taxation was based on census! Each free person counted as a whole number, including those bound for service for a term of years! Free males would be taxed and could vote! Indians living on treaty land were excluded from direct taxation and voting! Other, non-free persons were to be counted as 3/5s of a free person for representation! An Indian who joined white population were to be considered a free person and could vote! Entire text available at Library of Congress site When Were Censuses Taken?! Federal decennial censuses taken ! A census day was established! Enumerators given a deadline which to conduct census and a set of questions to ask! Responses to questions were supposed to be based as of the census day! Full enumerator instructions and questions are available at

2 Census Day 1790: 2 August 1800: 4 August 1810: 6 August 1820: 7 August 1830 through 1900: 1 June 1910: 15 April 1920: 1 January 1930: 1 April Who Were the Enumerators?! Assistant marshals of the Federal District Court system ! Lowly paid and often bought own supplies! Had little incentive to do a good job! Sometimes ignored state and county boundaries, or may actually have been responsible for multiple counties! Congressional act enabling 1880 census funded the Census Office and the hiring of real enumerators Who Prepared the Documents? ! Assistant marshal collected information! Head of household! Age brackets for males and females! 1820 included age brackets for males to determine number of males of military age! (NOTE: A male in the column is also included in the the column)! 1820 added age brackets for slaves and free-colored! Enumerator prepared the only copy! Summaries reports only were sent to Washington, DC! summaries were destroyed by British when they burned Washington on 24 August 1814 The Congressional Act of 1830! Congress passed a law calling for the return of the original 1790 through 1820 censuses to Washington by the district court clerks! Some were sent but many were not, resulting in lost censuses for states and territories! Those sent to Washington ultimately reached the National Archives (NARA) Who Prepared the Documents? ! Assistant marshal collected the information as in o Head of household o Age brackets for males and females in all categories o 1830 added name and age of Revolutionary War/Military pensioners! Two copies prepared! One retained by clerk! One sent to Washington, DC

3 Who Prepared the Documents? ! First Census Office began operations! New procedures put in place! Additional content added o All names in household listed starting in 1850 o Slave schedules in 1850 and 1860 o Mortality schedules in 1850, 1860 and 1870! Assistant marshals still took census! Federal court clerks removed from process! Secretary of state for each state or territory now became involved! THREE copies were now created! Assistant federal marshal was to create a clean copy and send it to the secretary of state (the state copy )! Original schedules were to be retained at the respective county courthouse! Secretary of state received all copies and prepared a federal copy and sent it to the Census Office in Washington! High possibility of transcription errors Who Prepared the Documents? 1880! Census Office was given large budget! No more federal courts and marshals involved! Census Office hired its own enumerators! Enumeration District (ED) maps prepared for entire country and territories! Vast changes in content o Relationships to head of household o Marital status o Birthplace of person and parents o Occupation and other data o District supervisor oversaw creation of one copy! Original remained in county! Copy sent to Washington Who Prepared the Documents? 1885! Congress allowed any state or territory to take a census in 1885 and have the Federal government pay part of the expense! Five states/territories accepted the offer: o Colorado o Dakota Territory (only a part survives) o Florida (4 counties missing) o Nebraska (2 counties missing) o New Mexico Territory (4 counties missing) Who Prepared the Documents? 1890! One family enumerated per sheet of paper! Congress financed only one copy! All originals went to Washington

4 ! Additional copies available to counties at their cost! Unknown if any county ordered a copy! Population schedules were destroyed by fire in January 1921 in the Commerce Building in Washington, DC! Only 6,160 of 62,979,766 persons information on population schedules survived the fire! Union Veterans and Widows Schedules did survive Who Prepared the Documents? ! Congress funded one set of schedules! Counties required to pay for copies if they wanted them! Returned to multiple families per document! Important information added o Birthplace of person and parents (added 1880) o Native tongue (1920) o Naturalization information o Occupation and home ownership information! 1900 and later censuses were microfilmed and destroyed only accessible on film A Look at Population Schedules and What Can Be Found?! What s in the population schedules?! Contents changed over time! Earliest ones ( ) contained: o Head of household o Number of free white males (by age range) o Number of free white females (by age range) o Number of slave males (by age range) o Number of slave white females (by age range) o Number of free colored males (by age range) Number of free colored females (by age range) o Aliens o Disabilities (deaf, dumb, blind, insane) Census Contents! Additional details were added o Head of household o All names, ages and gender o Occupation o Place of birth o Married in last year o Literacy o Deaf, dumb, blind, insane

5 1880 Census Contents! More details were added o Head of household o All names, ages and gender o Relationship o Marital status o Occupation o Deaf, dumb, blind, insane o Illness or disability o Literacy o Birthplaces (person & parents) More than Just Population Schedules: Documents Created for Each Census! Other schedules were created over time o Slave schedules o Mortality schedules o Union Veterans and Widows schedules o Agricultural schedules o Industry and Manufacturing schedules o Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes o Social Statistics! Don t overlook Enumeration District descriptions and maps Slave Schedules! 1850 and 1860 censuses o Name of slave owner(s) o Number if slaves o Age, sex and color o Fugitive from the state o Number manumitted (freed) o Deaf, dumb, blind, insane or idiotic o Number of slave houses Mortality Schedules! 1850 to 1885 censuses! Information on those who died during 12 months prior to census day o Deceased s name o Sex, age, and color (white, black, mulatto) o Birthplace o Month of death o Occupation o Cause of death o Number of days ill

6 Union Veterans and Widows Schedule ! Taken 1890 and survived 1921 fire! Partial returns; some counties missing! Intended to enumerate Union soldiers or surviving spouses! An occasional Confederate name is included! Excellent resource for locating family between 1880 and 1900! Pointer to military records Agricultural Schedules ! Submitted to Secretary of the Interior to catalog and evaluate the utilization of farmland! Activities of previous year and include name of owner, agent, or manager; numbers of acres of improved and unimproved land! Detailed information about crops, timber, livestock, honey, and other commodities! Provides insight into family life Manufacturing Schedules ! Intended to document industrial and manufacturing commerce! 1810 schedules lost! 1880 and later destroyed by government dictate! An investigation of the remaining schedules may be of interest if your ancestor owned a manufacturing concern Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes ! Seven-page schedule completed when an entry was listed on the population schedule! Enumerators also listed by observation o Schedule 1 Insane Inhabitants o Schedule 2 Idiots o Schedule 3 Deaf-Mutes o Schedule 4 Blind Inhabitants o Schedule 5 Homeless children (institutions) o Schedule 6 Inhabitants in Prison o Schedule 7 Pauper and Indigent Inhabitants Social Statistics ! Important genealogical information! Cemeteries within town borders (names, addresses, descriptions, maps, and other data)! Churches, a brief history, affiliation, and membership statistics! Trade societies, clubs, lodges, and other social institutions! Can be used as a resource to locate specific types of institutions in these years, and trace any surviving records

7 Enumeration District Descriptions and Maps! Enumeration Districts (EDs) were defined for census purposes beginning in 1880! Written descriptions and ED maps, used in conjunction with other maps, city directories, land and property records, tax lists, and other materials can assist you in locating your ancestors residence! Locating the residence then assists you in locating the actual census page more easily Colonial and State Census Records! Federal censuses taken every 10 years! Some colonial censuses exist! States sometimes took censuses in between the Federal enumerations! Ann Lainhart s book, State Census Records, is the best resource on state census records availability Indices and Finding Aids! Many census indices! Printed indices for many censuses! Automated Indexing Systems (AIS) 1790 through 1870! Ancestry.com s indexing for many censuses (continuing effort)! Soundex and Miracode microfilm! Soundex and Miracode CDs (Ancestry)! Heritage Quest s indexing! Ancestry and Proquest at some libraries! Volunteer transcriptions at USGenWeb sites Soundex Indexing System! Sound-alike system! Limited number of states! Utilizes a four-character code! First letter of surname and three numbers! Vowels after first letter are discarded! Remaining consonants are assigned numeric codes! Special rules regarding some letters and double- or multiple-character combinations! Used for censuses Miracode Indexing System! Sound-alike system! Used for censuses! Limited number of states! Differs from Soundex only in the census page reference information o Soundex: Vol., ED, Page and Line o Miracode: Vol., ED, Visitation #! 1930 Soundex is like Miracode

8 Importance of Soundex and Miracode to Your Research! Rapid means of locating family when: o You know the state and not the exact location o You are not sure of the state o You suspect spelling discrepancies o There are multiple persons with the same surname and given name Plans to Help Find Those Aliens Who Defy Our Attempts to Locate Them! Seven Essential Strategies 1. Transcribe effectively 2. Trace neighboring families 3. Trace other family members 4. Re-research ALL census records 5. Plot a family timeline and connect dots from one census to another 6. Use Enumeration District maps 7. Investigate alternative records Learn to Transcribe Effectively! Learn to read old handwriting! Study samples of period materials! Transcription is copying everything the way it was originally written! Abstracting and extracting have little lasting value to census research! Make copies whenever possible for future reference RERESEARCH Census Records! Look again!! Study every scrap of evidence you have gathered since you first saw each census! Look for gaps and patterns! Re-research the census records again as if you have never seen them! Look for new information and pointers Plot a Family Timeline! Place the entire family into context! Time! Location! Historical or societal situations! Plot all members having any connection whatsoever! Attempt to locate those missing and lost persons Connect the Dots! Use pointers found in one census to locate other census records! Slave schedule may include ancestor whose record was missed in the population schedule! Trace family members from one census to another in same location! Trace family migrating with neighbors! Don t overlook state censuses

9 Use Census Enumeration District Maps! Study ED descriptions and maps! Beginning in 1880! Watch for township changes! Watch street renaming/renumbering! Prior to 1880, other maps may help you home in on locations! Historical maps and gazetteers! Post office site maps (NARA microfilm publication M1126) Investigate Alternative Records! When you cannot locate an ancestor in a census, look for other document types to verify or refute his or her presence there o City directories o Land and property records o Tax rolls and jury lists o Death certificates, transit permits, and other sexton/cemetery administrator records o Wills and probate records o Church membership rolls o Schools, clubs, newspapers, employers, etc. Aha! Seminars, Inc. All rights reserved.

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