The 1880 census has a lot of information.  The headings are name of street and house number if living in the city, name, color, sex, age, if born within year give the month, relationship to head of family, single, married, widowed, divorced, married during the year, occupation, number of months unemployed.  On the second page are questions about Health that include sick or temporarily disabled on the day of the enumerators visit, blind, deaf and dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled. Three questions are about Education: attended school within the year, cannot read, cannot write.  The last three questions deal with Nativity: place of birth for this person, place of birth for father, place of birth of mother. 1880 also has an Industrial and Mechanical Schedule, an Agricultural Schedule, and a Mortality Schedule.

There are several other schedules in the 1880 census.  Schedule #2 deals with the insane.  Schedule #3 has information on idiots.  There is a definition of the word idiot:  “The word “idiot” has a special meaning which it is essential for every enumerator to know. An idiot is a person the development of whose mental facilities was arrested in infancy or childhood before coming to maturity. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the stupidity which results from idiocy and that which is due to the loss or deterioration of mental power in consequence of insanity. The latter is not true idiocy, but dementia or imbecility.”  Schedule #4 is for deaf-mutes.  Schedule #5 is for the blind.  Schedule #6 is for homeless children.  Schedule #7 gives information about prisoners.  Schedule #7a is for paupers and the indigent. 

Much of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire. The only records available for the 1890 census are part of Perry County, Alabama; part of the District of Columbia; Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia; Mound Township, McDonough County, Illinois; Rockford, Wright County, Minnesota; Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey; part of Westchester and Suffolk County, New York; part of Gaston and Cleveland counties in North Carolina; Cincinnati, Hamilton County and part of Clinton County, Ohio; Jefferson Township, Union County, South Dakota; and part of Ellis, Hood, Rusk, Trinity, and Kaufman counties in Texas.  1890 has a Veterans Schedule.

The 1900 census has a lot of information that can be gleaned.  Columns are headed: street, house number, dwelling number, family number, name, relation to head of family, color, sex, month of birth, year of birth, age, single, married, widowed, or divorced, number of years married, mother of how many children, number of these children living, place of birth, place of birth of father, place of birth of mother, year of immigration, attended school (months), can read, can write, can speak English, home owned or rented, home owned free or mortgaged, farm or house.  1900 also has a Special Inquiries Relating to Indians.

The 1910 census is two pages.  The headings are street name, house number, visitation number, family number, name, relation to head of house, sex, race, age, single, married, widowed, or divorced, number of years present marriage, number of children born to this mother, number of these children living, place of birth of this person, place of birth of father, place of birth of mother.  Page two has name, year of immigration, naturalized or alien, native language, trade or profession, nature of business, employer, employee or self-employed, weeks out of work in 1900, able to read, able to write, attended school since September 1, 1900, home owned or rented, home owned free or mortgaged, farm or house, number of farm schedule, union or confederate veteran, blind, deaf and dumb.  1910 also has a Special Inquiries Relating to Indians.

The 1920 census is another gold mine of information in it’s two pages.  Headings for the first page are street or avenue, house number or farm, number of dwelling house, number of family, name, relationship to head of household, home owned or rented, if owned free or mortgaged, sex, color or race, single, married, widowed, death, year of immigration to the U.S., naturalized or alien, if naturalized–year of naturalization, attended school anytime since September 1, 1919, able to read, able to write.  The second page has name, place of birth, mother tongue, place of birth and mother tongue of father, place of birth and mother tongue of mother, able to speak English, trade or profession, industry, business or establishment in which at work, employer, salary or wage worker or working on own account, number of farm schedule.

The 1930 census has some interesting questions.  Headings include house number, number of dwelling, number of family, name, relationship to head of family, home owned or rented, value of home if owned or monthly rental if rented, radio set, does this family live on a farm, sex, color, age at last birthday, marital condition, age at first marriage, attended school or college at any time since September 1, 1929, whether able to read or write, place of birth of this person, place of birth of father.  Questions continue on page 2 and include name, place of birth of mother, language spoken in home before coming to United States, code, year of immigration to the United States, naturalization, whether able to speak English, occupation, industry, code, class or worker, whether actually at work yesterday or the last regular working day, if not at work–line number on unemployment schedule, veteran of U.S. Military or naval forces, number of farm schedule.

The farm schedules and unemployment schedules mentioned in the census cannot be located except for the farm schedules for Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico.  These are in the process of being microfilmed. The Supplemental Indian Schedules were destroyed. The codes mentioned in the census were for internal use and were used to create statistics.  They do not provide any additional information.

The 1940 census is the last census we have available.  The census records are released every 72 years, so it will be April 2022 before the 1950 census will be released.  Page 1 of this census shows house number, number of household in order of visitation, home owned or rented, value of home or monthly rent if rented, farm (yes or no), name, relationship to head of household, code, sex, color or race, age at last birthday, marital status, attended school or college at any time since March 1, 1940, highest grade of school completed, code, place of birth, code, citizenship, residence on April 1, 1935.  The bottom half of this page has 14 questions on the employment status of persons 14 years of age and over. Page 2 has place of birth for father and mother, code, mother tongue, code, 4 questions are for veterans, 3 questions on social security for persons 14 years of age and over, occupation, industry, usual class of worker, code, and the last 3 questions are for women. For an explanation of the codes used in this census check out the work of Stephen P. Morse, PhD and Joel D. Weintraub, PhD.

Just a word about searching through the census online–use various spellings of your name.  My maiden name is Fortner but the name has been spelled Falkner, Faulkner, or Forkner by other relatives.  In census records the name can be spelled Falkenor, Falckner, Falconer, Falkiner. My pioneer ancestor is Nathan Fortner.  He is found in the 1830 census under the name Authan Fertner. Soundex indexes came into use because of the widespread misspelling of names.  Your library should have a Soundex index. For instructions on how to use the Soundex, check out this article by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Matthew Wright.

Come back next week when we will delve further into ways to research your family.  If you should have questions, just ask or you can leave a comment.

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