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Genealogy Gazette

Volume 3, Number 4
Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369
March 9, 2011


Publisher's Notes

This is the third in a four part series concerning the changes in the census from 1790 to 1940. Each census provides us with more information than the previous ones. We will take a look at some of the lesser known census for the next issue. Hopefully, the census information will help you in your search. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at jimd@mountainpress.com.

Thank you,
James L. Douthat
Mountain Press


Census Summary, Part 3


Beginning with the 1900 census and forward, the rules of the game changed considerably. Since there would be a lot more information of a personal nature, the release of these census was governed more strictly. In most of the census for the years 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 it was much easier to identify a certain individual and where they lived, therefore, for the longest time, a letter had to be written requesting the information and proving a relationship to that person. By the 1950s, the Bureau of the Census as part of the Department of Commerce loosened up on the restrictions and copies of the microfilm were released. We will look at these four census briefly and then look deeper into the upcoming 1940 Census.

1900 Census

With the usual questions about the name, age, race and sex we find more details into the month and year born and then the enumerator followed with questions about the marriage - what year married, mother of how many children, how many of these children were still alive. These last two questions are of utmost importance with the reconstruction of the family tree. This was a time of poor child survival rate and to know when other children might not have survived to adulthood is important. Sometimes, this can be ascertained from other census records, but it takes a very close examination of the records. The next couple of questions are important when it asks for the birth place of the individual, their father and their mother. Then the question of “year of immigration” followed by the question of “Number of years in the United States” was concluded with the question on their naturalization. The end of the census questions the “occupation” and “remarks”. In 1900 President Dwight Eisenhower first appeared as one of the persons enumerated for the census. He appeared in 1960 for the last time.

1910 Census

Continuing with the additional information getting more personal, the 1910 begins to question the education of the individual. There is also a great deal of space questioning the “occupation” and whether the individual is employed, self employed or unemployed. Like most of these four census years, a well developed sense of division of the county is necessary and one has to understand how the various counties are divided in order to find the individuals. In 1910 it is worthy to note that this is the first year that Lyndon B. Johnson appeared as an entry in the census. His last entry was in 1970.

1920 Census

In the instruction manual for the enumerators, one section is stressed more than in other years. This is who is to be counted in a household or camp. It seems if a servant sleeps in the household, they are counted there. If not do not sleep there, then they are counted where they sleep. The same applies to the “boarders and lodgers”. Those with no permanent address should be counted where they are lodging at the time the census taker enumerates a particular household. In the case of construction camps, i.e. railroad, canal, convict camps, State farms etc, they are collective enumerated as a group. This also applies to the residents of hotels and boarding houses. John F. Kennedy who was first noted in 1920 and his last entry was in 1960.

1930 Census

Besides all of the usual information, there is one question of note added to this census and is almost always overlooked as it appears at the very end of the sheet. This pertains to veterans. The individual is asked if they have served in military or naval service and in what war. In 1930, there were many Civil War veterans still alive and this could also be World War I and the Spanish American War. If you find a “Yes” and some kind of notation following this, then you have other possibilities for further search into their war records. If you were born in 1930, you are in good company as Jimmy Carter was first listed in this census and has been down to the last one in 2010.

1940 Census

This is additional information due to a question from one of our readers. The 1940 census will be released to the general public on April 2, 2012. This will give the following information:

Location, household data, relation, sex, race, age at last birthday, marital status, education, place of birth, citizenship, residence as of April 1, 1935, employment status for those 14 years and older, place of birth of father and mother, mother’s tongue, and veterans. From here are a couple of new items: Social Security - have a number, where the income is taken, usual occupation, usual industry. Now comes the really personal stuff: “Has this woman been married more than once? Age at first marriage? And number of children ever born (do not include stillbirths).

As most of you know already, the published versions of these census seldom include all of the information given. What we suggest is, if you can find your area of interest in book form, take the information shown and then go to the original census to get all of the subtle bits and pieces to help round out your research.

Our fourth article on the census will cover some of the lesser known census taken at the same time or sometime different from the regular census. We will explore the slave, agriculture, and manufacturing census. In addition, there are also state and territory census that have been taken through the years. These all contain some information, but not to the scope of the Population Census that we have explored in these first three articles. Stay tuned!!

1900, 1910 and 1920 Monroe County, KY Census

Three large volumes that contain the Census for 1900, 1910 and 1920 for Monroe County, Kentucky.

Click here for more information.


1900, 1910 and 1920 Fentress County, TN Census


Three Volumes for the Census from 1900, 1910 and 1920 for Fentress County, Tennessee.

Click here for more information.



1920 Bland County, Virginia Census


54 Pages, Full Name Index, Soft Cover, VA-0674, $15.00

The 1920 Bland County, Virginia Census is one of those vital research tools that any historian and genealogist needs for this southwestern Virginia county. The entries found here are entered by the various Districts with the household number included. Given are the names of each member of the families with their age and relationship to head of the household. Much information about each family is available from this volume.

Click here for surnames and more information.


If you have any questions or suggestions for future editions, please email us at jimd@mountainpress.com.