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13 April 2013

U.S. Census: Population Schedule

William J. Schuler family 1923, Lockport, IL. youngest to oldest - Dorothy, Mildred, Lloyd, Eleanor, Nettie, W.J. possession of Selma Blackmon

For the genealogist, every U.S. Population Schedule census provides unique information. Research each family in every census. The National Archives offers two concise articles, titled Clues in Census Records, 1850-1930 and Clues in Census Records, 1790-1840.
In order to compare census records by year, download and/or print the online information. Download both the index page and the census page. Abstract the research information into a genealogical software program or database. Always cite all research sources!
The census questions are different, check every census.
  • Head of household: 1790-1840
  • Everyone in the household: 1850 onward (except slaves), remember, relationship to the head of the house started in 1880
Birth date:
  • Age range of free white males and free white females only: 1790-1840
  • Age of everyone in the household: 1850 onward
  • Census days and the time allowed to complete each enumeration will help the researcher to narrow birth dates. The changes in the specific census day and time allowed to complete the count may account for discrepancies when comparing census years. The 1900 census is the only census with the month and year.
Other information included:
  • Parents nativity
  • Marriage
  • Immigration and citizenship
  • Military service
  • Occupation
  • Able to read or write
  • Able to speak English
  • Address
The 1940 census schedule asks for the person’s 1935 address. With many financial and farming changes during the 1930’s, this information may answer migration questions.
According to Measuring America by the U.S. Census Bureau “The U.S. Government did not furnish uniform printed schedules until 1830.” Even after this time with identical schedules, not all blanks have been filled in on every census page. The recorded information depended on the enumerator as well as the person answering the questions.
Questions for the researcher to ponder (all the following questions can be answered on each census page):
  • What does the census tell us?
  • Who gathered the information?
  • What was the purpose of this information?
  • When was the census taken?
  • Where is this family living?
What U.S. census questions do you have? Contact Selma Blackmon

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