Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Using the Census Records in your Family search

The United States population census records contain a wealth of information about people. They are useful in learning about one’s family and local social and economic conditions at various times in history. There was a population census taken in 1790 and every tenth year after that. Individual records from the federal population censuses are confidential for 72 years, by law (Title 44, U.S. Code). 1940 came out in April 2012. We'll have to wait till April 2022 for 1950. April 2033 for 1960. I hope I am still around, to actually see mine. I was born in 1954.

The first time I actually saw my grandparents in a census was thrilling and I was hooked. Both my parents were born in 1932 and 1934, so I had to wait till 2012, to see their names on the 1940 census - and there they were, listed along with their ages and family members. Wow.

What can the Census tell me? Population Census Items 1790–1940 list what each census recorded. Example:

1790- Name of family head; free white males of 16 years and up; free white males under 16; free white females; slaves; other free persons.

Each census gets a bit more involved with the 1940 census listing:

1940 - Address; home owned or rented; value or monthly rental; whether on a farm; name; relationship to household head; sex; race; age; marital status; school attendance; educational attainment; birthplace; citizenship of foreign born; location of residence 5 years ago and whether on a farm; employment status; if at work, whether in private or non-emergency government work, or in public emergency work (WPA, CCC, NYA, etc.); if in private work, hours worked in week; if seeking work or on public emergency work, duration of unemployment; occupation, industry, and class of worker; weeks worked last year, income last year.

NOTE: 1890 Census was destroyed in a fire in 1921- fragments of the US census population schedule exist only for the states of Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas.

The United States census of 1890 showed a total of 248,253 Native Americans living in America, down from 400,764 Native Americans identified in the census of 1850.

The 1890 census announced that the frontier region of the United States no longer existed and that the Census Bureau would no longer track the westward migration of the U.S. population. Up to and including the 1880 census, the country had a frontier of settlement. By 1890, isolated bodies of settlement had broken into the unsettled area to the extent that there was hardly a frontier line.

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  1. Census records are excellent for showing the whole household including visitors. I am sure they did not realise when they were compiling them how useful we would find them.

    C is for caught in Caen during the Reign of Terror


    Anne Young

    Anne's family history

  2. Interesting information. I did some research on my mother's side of the family about 10 years ago and found the census records quite helpful. Haven't tackled my father's side of the family yet. His father was Japanese, his mother Chinese. He was born in 1936 in Tokyo. It would cost a little more money to research his background prior to my great-grandparents. It's a Bucket List thing. :-)

    1. I don't know about Japanese and Chinese records, but it would be worth it one day. It's a fun hobby

  3. I do like seeing the census records as well. I have to one day just start my dad's history. My dad was born in 1913 (He was 51 when I was born). My grandmother died in 1919 so what little I found out was that her name was spelled 11 different ways! I know my grandfather, who was born in 1878 (If I remember) in Scotland (he was born there but the family was anything but Scotsmen:)) and I am not sure if they came to the States first or Canada. I know my Grandfather had a saloon in Chicago but wouldn't even know where to start to find out. My grandparents married in Sudbury, Ont. in 1897 and my first 2 Aunts were born in Chicago before they came back to Ontario to live in Barry's Bay where my grandmother hailed from. Ughh...

    1. Do it - don't wait. Even when I hear other family stories I get excited.


About Me

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Stay at home Mom to 1 dog and 2 cats. I am the "big sister" in the photo. My baby sister, passed away unexpectedly, Sept. 2015 at the young age of 56. I miss her terribly. Everyone in my childhood family has now passed. I have 3 sons. My oldest son died in 2003 at the age of 25. I am not LDS. I do enjoy History and GENEALOGY has become my hobby and my passion.