Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tuesday's Tip: Use the 1900 United States Federal Census

The record collection for the 1900 United States Federal Census is one of my favorite record collections.  It is available in digital format online at:

*  Ancestry.com  ($$) - 77,146,272 entries

 MyHeritage.com ($$) - 76,460,854 entries

*  Findmypast.com (Free) - 76,223,970 entries

 FamilySearch.org (Free) - 76,479,144 entries

The official population count of the United States in 1900 was 76,212,168.

Why are the number of entries different at each provider?  Perhaps it is because all of the  providers permit an alternate user-provided index entry for enumerated persons.

The description of the 1900 United States Federal Census collection on Ancestry.com says:
This database is an index to all individuals enumerated in the 1900 United States Federal Census, the Twelfth Census of the United States. In addition, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1900 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration microfilm, T623, 1854 rolls. (If you do not initially find the name on the page that you are linked to, try a few pages forward or backward, as sometimes different pages had the same page number.)
Enumerators of the 1900 census were instructed to record the names of every person in the household. Enumerators were asked to include the following categories in the census: name; address; relationship to the head of household; color or race; sex; month and year of birth; age at last birthday; marital status; number of years married; the total number of children born of the mother; the number of those children living; places of birth of each individual and the parents of each individual; if the individual was foreign born, the year of immigration and the number of years in the United States; the citizenship status of foreign-born individuals over age twenty-one; occupation; whether the person could read, write, and speak English; whether the home was owned or rented; whether the home was on a farm; and whether the home was mortgaged. The categories allowed Congress to determine persons residing in the United States for collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives.
Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do the U.S. Federal Censuses. The population schedules are successive "snapshots" of Americans that depict where and how they were living at particular periods in the past. Because of this, the census is often the best starting point for genealogical research after home sources have been exhausted.
The official enumeration day of the 1900 census was 1 June 1900. All questions asked were supposed to refer to that date. By 1900, there were a total of forty-five states in the Union, with Utah being the latest addition and Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Oklahoma enumerated as territories.
The FamilySearch collection has this information:
The following information may be found in these records:1900 Census NARA 1900 Federal Census Sample form  
  • State, county, township, and enumeration district where census was taken
  • Street address and house number
  • Name of head of household
  • Names of all members of household
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Month and year of birth
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Number of years married
  • Number of children born to mother
  • Number of children still living
  • Each household member's birthplace
  • Birthplace of person's father
  • Birthplace of person's mother
  • Year of immigration and number of years in the United States
  • Whether a naturalized citizen: Al Alien; Pa Papers; Na Naturalized
  • Occupation
  • Months attended school
  • Whether member can, read, write and speak English
Territory of Alaska census
  • Tribe and clan
  • Date of locating to Alaska
  • Occupation in Alaska
  • Post office address at home
Native American Census Form 
  • Indian name
  • Tribe of the individual and names of their parents
  • Percentage of white blood
  • If married, whether living in polygamy
  • Whether taxed
  • Year of citizenship
  • Whether citizenship was acquired by land allotment
Hawaiian Islands census
  • Year of immigration and number of years lived in the Hawaiian Islands
Military and Navy census
  • Name of military, naval station, or vessel
  • Company or troop, regiment, and arm of service
  • Rank grade or class
  • Residence in the United States

Here is an example from the FamilySearch census for a search for one person (two screens below):

  I searched each record provider for some of my exact surnames of interest.  The results are:

*  Seaver               2094 (on Ancestry)
                              1734 (on MyHeritage)
                              1734 (on Findmypast)
                              1734 (on Family Search)

*  Carringer             249 (on Ancestry)
                                  88 (on MyHeritage)
                                  88 (on Findmypast)
                                  88 (on Family Search)

*  Auble                  378 (on Ancestry)
                                298 (on MyHeritage)
                                298 (on Findmypast)
                                298 (on Family Search)

*  Vaux                    250  (on Ancestry)
                                242 (on MyHeritage)
                                242 (on Findmypast)
                                210 (on Family Search) 

*  Smith           906,601 (on Ancestry)
                         879,333 (on MyHeritage)
                         879,320 (on Findmypast)
                         878,917 (on Family Search)

FamilySearch, MyHeritage and Findmypast have almost the same number of entries for each surname except Smith - I think FamilySearch provided the index and images for this collection to Findmypast and MyHeritage.

Ancestry,com and FamilySearch created separate census indexes using paid and/or volunteer indexers.  The differences in numbers between providers for a specific surname is probably due to some of the providers permitting a user-submitted addition to the index.

It is important to understand what this collection represents and includes.  This collection is paper records created by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1900, copied to microfilm and provided in digital format at some time to the digital record providers for a fee.  The record providers then used paid or volunteer indexers to create the different indexes.

These records are Original Source records, with Primary Information (state, county, town address) and Secondary Information (for everything else), and Indirect Evidence of the person's name, age, and other items.

I use this database extensively to find my ancestors, my relatives, and other persons in my family tree.  I usually download the record image to my computer for my ancestors, summarize the information for each person in the household, and enter a Census event for the household, with the official census date, the census place, and craft a source citation.  I add a Note for each person with the location, date, and household summary information, and add a Media item for each person in the household of my ancestral families.

For those interested in mining this record collection for Hints of persons in their Ancestry Member Tree, the Ancestry.com database number is 7602.  Currently, I have over 3,980 Hints for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree who are indexed in this record collection.  I work on them occasionally, adding content and source citations to profiles in my RootsMagic family tree.  Of course, I have some accepted Hints from this collection already in my RootsMagic family tree and my Ancestry Member Tree, but not many.

I have not attached many MyHeritage Hints to my MyHeritage tree, which is now a year out of date.  On MyHeritage, I have 2,781 pending Record Matches for persons in my MyHeritage tree.


NOTE:  Tuesday's Tips is a genealogy blog meme intended to provide information about a resource helpful to genealogists and family historians, especially in the U.S. online genea-world.

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