Episode 107 Resources: The Count: Unearthing Gems in the 1900 & 1910 U.S. Census

In this second episode in our Dawn of a New Decade series, learn the ins and outs of the first two census sets of the 20th century and the gems within to unearth more research finds!

Click here to watch episode 107. 

Previous Episodes of Interest:

1900 U.S. Census Changes from 1880 U.S. Census

  • Years married
  • Number of children born versus number of children living
    • Number of children born “Stillborn children are not to be counted.”
    • “ Whether the children are living in your district or elsewhere makes no difference. If the woman has had no children, or if they are all dead, write ‘‘0.’’ 
  • Land ownership
    • Whether land owned or rented, free or mortgaged
  • Citizenship section
  • Removal of the Health Column
  • Relationships
    • Relationship instructions do not recognize common law relationships
    • Explicit instructions on relationships
    • “for person married during the census year, that is, from June 1, 1899, to May 31, 1900, write ‘‘0;’’
  • “Where they laid their head” enumeration
  • “The floating population in vessels, steamboats, and house boats at wharves and piers or river landings should be enumerated on the morning of June 1, as far as possible, by the enumerators of the districts contiguous to the water front, including in the enumeration all persons who claim to be residents of the United States, even though they have no other home than on board the craft where they are found; but the officers and crew of a foreign ship only temporarily in the harbor are not to be enumerated.”
  • Race: 
    • “Column 5. Color or race. Write ‘‘W’’ for white; ‘‘B’’ for black (negro or negro descent); ‘‘Ch’’ for Chinese; ‘‘Jp’’ for Japanese, and ‘‘In’’ for Indian, as the case may be.”
  • Birth:
    • “If the person was born at sea, write ‘‘at sea.’’
  • Occupation:
    • “If a person has two occupations, enter the more important one, that is, the one from which he gets the more money. If you can not learn that, enter the one in which he spends the more time. For example, describe a person who gets most of his income by managing a farm, but also preaches, as a ‘‘farmer,’’ but if he gets more income from his preaching, describe him as a ‘‘preacher’’ and not as a farmer.”
    • Occupations list: Agric. agriculture, Mfr. manufacturer, Agt. agent, Prest. president, Asst. assistant, R.R. railroad or railway, Co. company, Sch. school, Comsn. commission, Secy. secretary, Dept. department, Supt. superintendent, Fcty. factory, Teleg. telegraph, Insur. insurance, Telph. telephone, Merch. merchant, Trav. traveling, or traveler, Mfg. manufacturing, Treas. Treasurer
  • Indian Schedules (Special Inquiries Relating to Indians)

An Act to Provide for a Permanent Census Office (March 6, 1902)

Makes the temporary census office a permanent bureau within the Department of the Interior. Authorized a census of manufactures to be conducted in 1905 and every five years thereafter, an annual survey of cotton production, and other economic censuses. http://bit.ly/3amL5sq 

1910 Census

  • Official Date moved to from June 1 to April 15
  • Indian Schedules “Graduated from what educational institution” (Indian Boarding Schools)
  • Race:
    • Column 6. Color or race.—Write ‘‘W’’ for white; ‘‘B’’ for black; ‘‘Mu’’ for mulatto; ‘‘Ch’’ for Chinese; ‘‘Jp’’ for Japanese; ‘‘In’’ for Indian. For all persons not falling within one of these classes, write ‘‘Ot’’ (for other), and write on the left-hand margin of the schedule the race of the person so indicated.
    • For census purposes, the term ‘‘black’’ (B) includes all persons who are evidently fullblooded negroes, while the term ‘‘mulatto’’ (Mu) includes all other persons having some proportion or perceptible trace of negro blood.
  • Marital Status:
    • Column 8. Whether single, married, widowed, or divorced. Write ‘‘S’’ for single or unmarried persons;
    • ‘‘Wd’’ for widowed (man or woman); ‘‘D’’ for divorced; for married persons, inquire whether they have been married before, and if this is the first marriage, write ‘‘M1,’’ but if this is the second or
    • subsequent marriage, write ‘‘M2’’ (meaning married more than once).
  • Number of Children Born
    • Column 10. This question applies to women who are now married, or who are widowed, or divorced. The answer should give the total number of children that each such woman has had during her lifetime. It should include, therefore, the children by any former marriage as well as by her present marriage. It should not include the children which her present husband may have had by a former wife, even though they are members of her present family. Stillborn children should not be included. If the woman has never had any children, write ‘‘0’’ in this column and also in column 11. 
  • Mother tongue.
    • The question ‘‘What is your mother tongue or native language?’’ should be asked of all persons who were born in any foreign country, and the answer should be written in column 12, after the name of the country of birth. In order to save space, the abbreviations (indicated on separate ‘‘List of foreign countries’’) should be used for the country of birth, but the language given as the mother tongue should be written out in full. In returning the mother tongue observe the rules laid down in paragraphs 134 to 143. 
  • Employment:
    • Column 20. Whether employer, employee, or working on own account. For one employing persons, other than domestic servants, in transacting his own business, write ‘‘Emp’’ (for employer). For a person who works for wages or a salary, write ‘‘W’’ (for wage earner). For a gainful worker who is neither an employer nor an employee, write ‘‘OA’’ (for own account). For all persons returned as having no occupation, leave the column blank.
  • Survivors of the Civil War (Union and Confederate) 
    • “Column 30. Whether a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy.—This question should be asked as to all males over 50 years of age who were born in the United States and all foreign born males who immigrated to this country before 1865. Write ‘‘UA’’ if a survivor of the Union Army; ‘‘UN’’ if a survivor of the Union Navy; ‘‘CA’’ if a survivor of the Confederate Army; and ‘‘CN’’ if a survivor of the Confederate Navy. For all other persons leave the column blank.”
  • Deaf and dumb; blind (both eyes)
    • Column 31. Whether blind (both eyes).—If a person is either totally or partially blind, in both eyes, so as not to be able to read even with the help of glasses, write ‘‘Bl.’’ For all other persons leave the column blank.
    • Columns 32. Whether deaf and dumb.—If a person is both deaf and dumb, write ‘‘DD.’’ For all other persons leave the column blank. Persons who are deaf but not dumb, or persons who are dumb but not deaf, are not to be reported.


  • History of the Citizenship Question – https://n.pr/38h8Xfw 
  • A Complete History of Census Race Boxes – http://bit.ly/2vwrYxb 
  • “The Devil and the One Drop Rule: Racial Categories, African Americans, and the U.S. Census” (1997) (PDF) largely legal overview; see pp 1183-1187 for 1850-1900, Christine B. Hickman. http://bit.ly/35woZRc 

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