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(Excludes identification items, screening questions, and other information collected, but not intended for tabulation)
t Available on supplemental questionnaires at the National Archives and Records Administration. s Sample question.
(1) Free White persons only.
(2) Question only asked of free inhabitants.
(3) Question was whether insane or idiotic.
(4) In 1960, place of birth was asked on a sample basis generally, but on a 100-percent basis in New York and Puerto Rico. Citizenship was asked only in New York and Puerto Rico, where it was a 100-percent item.
(5) Question was only whether parents were foreign born.
(6) For males 21 years of age or over.
(7) Whether person could speak English. In 1900, this was the only question; in 1920 and 1930 this question was in addition to request for mother tongue.
(8) Asked only outside cities.
(9) On housing portion of questionnaire.
See also supplemental questionnaires.
t Available on supplemental questionnaires at the National Archives and Records Administration.
s Sample question.
1Free White persons only.
2Question only asked of free inhabitants.
3Question was whether insane or idiotic.
"In 1960, place of birth was asked on a sample basis generally, but on a 100-percent basis in New York and Puerto Rico. Citizenship was asked
only in New York and Puerto Rico, where it was a 100-percent item. 5Question was only whether parents were foreign born. 6For males 21 years of age or over. 7Whether person could speak English. In 1900, this was the only question; in 1920 and 1930 this question was in addition to request for mother
8Asked only outside cities.
A note about microfilmed schedules for genealogy.
Please note that the microfilmed images of schedules completed by an enumerator can have abbreviations, titles, comments, and even "doodles," that do not correspond to any information contained in the instructions given to each enumerator. In such cases, the meaning of this entry has been lost with the enumerator. Furthermore, schedules will frequently have entries (within the schedule or its margins) that seem to have no relation to the question asked. The meaning of these entries have been lost so many years since the marks were made. Although these entries may indeed relate to the household, they often are related to the administrative duties conducted during receipt and tabulation of the schedules by Census Bureau clerks. For example, the letters "JGG" (or any other letters, numbers, or words) next to or within an entry may have been the initials of a Census Bureau clerk, used to indicate where he/she stopped for lunch or the end of the workday, or a manager making an administrative note, such as a shift change. Thus, abbreviations/marks found on the microfilms that are not explicitly identified within the instructions to the enumerators are impossible to definitively understand.
A HISTORY OF THE DECENNIAL CENSUSES: 1790-2000
Censuses of 1790 to 1840
A nationwide population census on a regular basis dates from the establishment of the United States. Article I, Section 2, of the United States Constitution required that—
"Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term often years, in such manner as they shall by law direct.3"
Starting with the 1 800 census, the Secretary of State directed the enumeration and, from 1 800 to 1 840, the marshals reported the results to him. From 1850 through 1900, the Interior Department, established in 1849, had jurisdiction.
3ln subsequent decades, the practice of "service for a term of years" died out. "Indians not taxes" were those not living in settled areas and paying taxes; by the 1 940s, all American Indians were considered to be taxed. The 1 3th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1 868, officially ended Article 1 's "three-fifths rule." Thus, the original census requirements were modified. Direct taxation based on the census never became practical.
The 1 800 and 1810 population censuses were similar in scope and method to the 1 790 census. However, the Congress, statisticians, and other scholars urged that while the populace was being enumerated, other information the new government needed also should be collected. The first inquiries on manufacturing were made in 1810 and, in later decades, censuses of agriculture, mining, governments, religious bodies (discontinued after 1946), business, housing, and transportation were added to the decennial census. (Legislation enacted in 1 948 and later years specified that the various economic, agriculture, and government censuses would be taken at times that did not conflict with those in which the population and housing censuses occurred.)
The 1 830 census related solely to population. The marshals and their assistants began using uniform printed schedules; before that, they had to use whatever paper was available, rule it, write in the headings, and bind the sheets together.
The census act for the 1 840 census authorized the establishment of a centralized census office during each enumeration and provided for the collection of statistics pertaining to "the pursuits, industry, education, and resources of the country." The new population inquiries included school attendance, illiteracy, and type of occupation.
From 1 790 through the 1840 census, the household, not the individual, was the unit of enumeration in the population census, and only the names of the household heads appeared on the schedules. There was no tabulation beyond the simple addition of the entries the marshals had submitted, and there was no attempt to publish details uniformly by cities or towns, or to summarize returns for each state, other than by county, unless the marshals had done so.
Censuses of 1850 to 1890
The act governing the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Decennial Censuses (1 850-1 870) made several changes in census procedures: Each marshal was responsible for subdividing his district into "known civil divisions," such as counties, townships, or wards, and for checking to ensure that his assistants' returns were completed properly. The number of population inquiries grew; every free person's name was to be listed, as were the items relating to each individual enumerated. Beginning in 1850, marshals collected additional "social statistics" (information about taxes, schools, crime, wages, value of estate, etc.) and data on mortality. [Decennial mortality schedules for some states and territories exist for 1850-1880 and for a few places in 1885; see Table 2.]
Noteworthy features of the 1 870 census included the introduction of a rudimentary tally device to help the clerks in their work and the publications of maps, charts, and diagrams to illustrate the most significant census results.
The general scope of the 1880 census was expanded only slightly over that of 1 870, but much greater detail was