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Genealogy Gazette

Volume 6, Number 13
Mountain Press, P.O. Box 400, Signal Mountain, Tennessee 37377, 1-423-886-6369
June 18, 2014


Publisher's Notes

This week we continue our series on the changes in the census from 1790 to 1940. Each census provides us with more information than the previous ones. In the next issue, we will take a look at some of the lesser known census. 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 as well as the 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 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

The 1940 census was released to the general public on April 2, 2012. It includes location, household data, relation, sex, race, age at last birthday, marital status, education, place of birth, and citizenship. It also asked where they resided 5 years prior on April 1, 1935. In addition, it asked highest educational grade as well as occupation and wages.

Two people from each page were asked additional questions regarding the place of birth of father and mother, mother’s tongue, veteran status, Social Security items, usual occupation, and usual industry. For the women answering the supplemental questions they were asked: “Has this woman been married more than once? Age at first marriage? And number of children ever born (do not include stillbirths)."

The 1940 census can be found online several places. You can find it at the National Archives Website. Since there is no name index, you will have to know the location or enumeration district number to begin a 1940 census search. For my hometown in Virginia there were two enumeration districts with over 50 pages in each district. There was a map included if you know where your family lived, but finding a name will be time consuming.

The 1940 census is also online at the Family Search Website and it does have a name index. I was able to quickly locate my family, but our last name was spelled incorrectly!

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.

Happy Hunting!!


South Carolina Census



Abbeville County, SC 1820 Census and Map

Fairfield County, SC 1820 Census and Map

Orangeburg, SC 1790 Census



Tennessee Census



Sequatchie Valley, TN 1830 Census

Bradley County, TN 1850 Census

Washington County, TN 1840 Census



Virginia Census



Bath County, VA 1840 Census

Giles County, VA 1810 Census

Giles County, VA 1840 Census

Henry County, VA 1840 Census


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