A Census is a Census. Right?
You would think that a census would have pretty much the same information from one U.S. Census year to the next. However, this is simply not true. When I first began doing genealogical research I was astounded (and intimidated) when someone would tell me, “You need to find the family in the 1850 U.S. Census because individual family members weren’t listed in earlier censuses).” Later in the conversation I might hear the suggestion, “You should look for them in the 1900 census, because you can see how many children a woman had and how many were still living. Too bad we don’t have the 1890 Census…”
As a beginner I couldn’t fathom how someone could have so much knowledge about the nuances of one decennial census to the next. Now, ten years later, my research has brought me to a point where these differences are second nature to me as well! If some of you are still learning, however, I thought it would be helpful to share some of my favorite things about select U.S. Census record sets. This list is not comprehensive. It just highlights some of the things I love to use in my research.
Favorite Things about U.S. Census Records
|1790||It exists! Traditionally held to be the first national census of the United States|
|1830||Standardized format for each State;
Numbers of males and females in age bands
|1850||Lists everyone in the household with specific age, occupation, and place of birth!|
|1870||Columns 11-14 contain 1) Parents of foreign birth,
2) month born if born within the year, and
3) month married if married within the year
|1880||Lists relationship to Head of Household;
Includes place of birth of father and mother
|1890||If you are lucky enough to have ancestors that lived in 1 of 20 some-odd counties that survived! Otherwise… Boo Hoo!|
|1900||Includes Street & House Number; Month & Year of Birth (discontinued in 1910);
# of children born and living; Year of Immigration
|1910||Shows # of years in present marriage;
# of children born and living;
Year of Immigration;
Veteran of Union or Confederate armies
|1920||Shows place of birth and mother tongue of individual, father, and mother;
|1930||Includes Age at first marriage;
Schedule of unemployment
|1940||Shows residence in 1935|
|1950||Just seeing if you were actually reading this!
The 1950 Census will be made public in 2022 🙂
Did I miss something? What are your favorite things about the U.S. Census records? Share and comment below!