Genealogy Basics: The 1910 Census

Continuing our recent discussion on census records, today we’re looking at the 1910 census.  The 1910 census was enumerated beginning 15 April 1910.  Let’s look at the actual census record to see what information can be extracted from this census.  Using my great-grandpa Edward’s census listing, let’s look at what can be discovered about his family:


Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1910 U.S. Census

Edward B. Conwell, Sr. is listed here with his wife, Zella, and children Edward B., Milford, Mildred and Frank.  Breaking the census listing down into three parts will help us view the information a little easier:


Section #1 of Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1910 U.S. Census

The first two columns are not numbered but they contain information on the abode:

  • Street, avenue, road, etc. (name)
  • House number (in cities or towns)

Columns #1-#2 contain additional information on the abode:

  • Number of dwelling house in order of visitation
  • Number of family in order of visitation

I see that Edward and his family are living on Cyprus Avenue (the street name got partially cut off but it does say Cyprus Avenue).  So this is another address that I can go look up to see if the house is still standing.  Add that to my list of genealogy things to do.

Column #3 is the name of each person whose place of abode on April 15, 1910, was in this family (surname first, then first name and middle initial if there is one) and column #4 is the relationship of the person to the head of the family:

  • Conwell, Edward B. – head
  • Conwell, Zella – wife
  • Conwell, Edna M. – daughter
  • Conwell, Edward B. – son
  • Conwell, Milford R. – son
  • Conwell, Mildred A. – daughter
  • McCabe, Sarah A. – mother-in-law

Columns #5-#11 are personal description data:

  • Sex
  • Color or race
  • Age at last birthday
  • Whether single, married, widowed or divorced
  • Number of years of present marriage
  • Mother of how many children: Number born
  • Mother of how many children: Number now living

This is pretty self-explanatory information, though it does bear mentioning that at this time Edward was 41 (Zella’s age on this census is unreadable), married to Zella for 10 years and they had a total of six children, with four still living.  This tells me I need to look for some deceased children prior to 1910.  Using earlier census records will help me narrow down the years I need to check for those children.  Sarah’s number of children is also listed so I know she had six but the number still living is unreadable.

Great information to get off this census is the age at last birthday, their marital status and number of years of present marriage, the number of children born and number now living.

Moving on to part #2 of the census record:


Section #2 of Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1910 U.S. Census

Columns #12-#14 are nativity information:

  • Place of birth of this person
  • Place of birth of father of this person
  • Place of birth of mother of this person

This is also really great information because, if I didn’t already have places of birth for each person and their parents, this census provides it.  Keep in mind this information is only as good as (1) the person giving the information and (2) the person writing the information down.  But it gives you a clue where to look.

This census enumerator has taken the time to list each person’s birth location and the birth locations of their parents (as provided by the person providing the census information).  As you can see, everyone was U.S. born and most were born in the Midwest in either Kansas, Missouri, Illinois or Ohio.

Columns #15-#16 are citizenship information:

  • Year of immigration to the United States
  • Whether naturalized or alien

Again, by this time all my family was U.S. born so none of these columns apply.

Column #17 is whether the person is able to speak English or not and if they were not English speaking, the enumerator was asked to list what language they spoke.  The entire family was able to speak English.

Moving on to part #3 of the census record:


Section #3 of Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1910 U.S. Census

Columns #18-#22 are occupation information:

  • Trade, profession, or particular kind of work done as spinner, salesman, laborer, etc.
  • General nature of industry, business, or establishment in which the person works, as cotton mill, dry goods store, farm, etc.
  • Whether employer, employee or working on own account
  • If an employee: Whether out of work on April 15, 1910
  • If an employee: Number of weeks out of work during the year 1909

From this we can see that Edward Sr. was working but his trade and industry are mostly unreadable.  I’m going to have to see if I can find a better copy somewhere.  Great-great grandma Sarah was working as a laundress for a private family.  They were both working on their own account.  Neither one was out of work as of the enumeration date and neither was out of work during 1909.

Columns #23-#25 are education information:

  • Whether able to read
  • Whether able to write
  • Attended school any time since September 1, 1909

Edward Sr. and Zella are the only ones listed as being able to read and write.  Their daughter, Edna, is the only one listed as having attended school that year.

Columns #26-#29 are ownership of home information:

  • Owned or rented
  • Owned free or mortgaged
  • Farm or house
  • Number of farm schedule

I’m somewhat disappointed that there’s no information listed in these columns for Edward and his family.  I have no idea if they rented or owned their home in 1910.

The last three columns are kind of interesting bits of information:

  • Column #31: Whether a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy
  • Column #32: Whether blind (both eyes)
  • Column #33: Whether deaf and dumb

I didn’t expect to see any information in these columns for my family honestly.  I know none of the last columns applied to any of them but column #31 (Union/Confederate military survivor) is great information for genealogists since it gives a clue to military service.

The 1910 census can contain some great information for genealogists.  There are several ways to access the census records, from using Ancestry.com (if you don’t have a paid subscription to Ancestry, check out your local library or Family History Center for free usage opportunities) for indexed images to using some of the non-indexed sites and paging thru the census record pages one by one.  I prefer the indexed version, however, going through page by page can wield treasures of its own.  Additional family members have been discovered in this manner and it can also give you a picture of who was living around your ancestor.

Next week: the 1900 census!

Genealogy Basics: The 1920 Census

Today we’re continuing the discussion on census records and looking at the 1920 census.  The 1920 census was enumerated beginning 1 January 1920.  Let’s look at the actual census record to see what information can be extracted from this census.  Using my great-grandpa Edward’s census listing, let’s look at what can be discovered about his family:


Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1920 U.S. Census

Edward B. Conwell, Sr. is listed here with his wife, Zella, and children Edward B., Milford, Mildred and Frank.  Breaking the census listing down into three parts will help us view the information a little easier:


Section #1 of Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1920 U.S. Census

Columns #1-#4 contain information on the abode:

  • Street of person’s abode
  • House number or farm
  • Number of dwelling house in order of visitation by enumerator
  • Number of family in order of visitation by enumerator

I see that Edward and his family are still living on Indiana (the street name got partially cut off but it does say Indiana), the street they were living on in 1930 when the census was taken, but they’ve changed house numbers.  So this is another address that I can go look up to see if the house is still standing.  Add that to my list of genealogy things to do.

Column #5 is the name of each person whose place of abode on January 1, 1920, was in this family (surname first, then first name and middle initial if there is one) and column #6 is the relationship of the person to the head of the family:

  • Conwell, Edward B. – head
  • Conwell, Zella – wife
  • Conwell, Edward B. – son
  • Conwell, Milford – son
  • Conwell, Mildred – daughter
  • Conwell, Frank – son

Columns #7-#8 are “tenure” data:

  • Home owned or rented
  • If owned, free or mortgaged

From this we can see that Edward Sr. was renting the home they were in.

Columns #9-#12 are personal description data

  • Sex
  • Color or race
  • Age at last birthday
  • Single, married, widowed or divorced

This is pretty self-explanatory information.  Great information to get off this census is the age at last birthday and their marital status.

Columns #13-#15 are citizenship information:

  • Year of immigration to the United States
  • Naturalized or alien
  • If naturalized, year of naturalization

Again, by this time all my family was U.S. born so none of these columns apply.

Moving on to part #2 of the census record:


Section #2 of Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1920 U.S. Census

Columns #16-#18 are education information:

  • Attended school since 9/11/1919
  • Whether able to read
  • Whether able to write

The three youngest children all attended school in 1919.  Grandpa Edward was 15 at the time this census was taken and it seems was not attending school.  I happen to know from verbal history that, like a lot of older children during this time, he was working to help support the family.

Columns #19-#24 are nativity and mother tongue information:

  • Place of birth (of person)
  • Mother tongue (of person)
  • Place of birth (of father)
  • Mother tongue (of father)
  • Place of birth (of mother)
  • Mother tongue (of mother)

This is also really great information because, if I didn’t already have places of birth for each person and their parents, this census provides it.  Keep in mind this information is only as good as (1) the person giving the information and (2) the person writing the information down.  But it gives you a clue where to look.

This census enumerator has taken the time to list each person’s birth location and the birth locations of their parents (as provided by the person providing the census information).  As you can see, everyone was U.S. born and most were born in the Midwest in either Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois or Ohio.  It seems, though, that the enumerator didn’t complete all the boxes for the mother tongue information.  It would be nice if the enumerator was consistent and filled in all the boxes available but that obviously doesn’t always happen.

Column #25 is whether the person is able to speak English or not.  The entire family was able to speak English.

Moving on to part #3 of the record:


Section #3 of Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1920 U.S. Census

Columns #26-#28 are occupation information:

  • Trade, profession, or particular kind of work done as spinner, salesman, laborer, etc.
  • Industry, business, or establishment which at work, as cotton mill, dry goods store, farm. etc.
  • Employer, salary worker, wage worker or working on his own account

From this we can see that Edward Sr. was working as a laborer and Edward Jr. was listed as an office boy in a packing house, but column #28 is somewhat confusing.  According to the census instructions I located here, the codes for this column were either Em for employer, W for a salary or wage worker and OA for a gainful worker that is neither an employer nor a salary or wage worker.  Someone who had no occupation was supposed to have that column left blank.  But the enumerator has listed both Edwards as simply “E”.  Knowing that Grandpa Edward was always an employee and never an employer and seeing that both Edwards were listed as currently working, process of elimination dictates that they were both either salary or wage worker (most likely wage workers) and should have been listed with a “W” in that column.

Column #29 is the number of farm schedule, which doesn’t apply to this household.

The 1920 census can contain some great information for genealogists.  There are several ways to access the census records, from using Ancestry.com (if you don’t have a paid subscription to Ancestry, check out your local library or Family History Center for free usage opportunities) for indexed images to using some of the non-indexed sites and paging thru the census record pages one by one.  I prefer the indexed version, however, going through page by page can wield treasures of its own.  Additional family members have been discovered in this manner and it can also give you a picture of who was living around your ancestor.

Next week: the 1910 census!  And be sure to check back later this week for a very special edition of Around the Town Thursday!  I’ve got a special treat in store 🙂

Genealogy Basics: The 1930 Census

A couple of weeks ago we started talking about census records and looked at the 1940 census.  Today we’re continuing to look at census records and the focus is on the 1930 census.

The 1930 census was enumerated beginning 1 April 1930.  Let’s take a look at an actual census record to see what kind of information can be extracted from this census.  Last post we looked at my Grandpa Edward’s census listing.  I haven’t located him in the 1930 census yet but I have a listing for my Great-Grandpa Edward (Grandpa Edward’s father) to use for our example:


Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1930 U.S. Census

Edward B. Conwell is listed here with his wife, Zella M., and children, Milford R. and Frank R.  As you see, listed below the Conwell family, also living with Grandpa Edward, is his son-in-law John Crouse, daughter and wife of John, Mildred and granddaughter Evelyn J.  Breaking the record down into three parts will help us view the information a little easier:


Section #1 of Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1930 U.S. Census

Columns #1-#4 contain information on the abode:

  • Street, avenue, road, etc.
  • House number (in cities or towns)
  • Number of dwelling house in order of visitation
  • Number of family (in order of visitation)

This is great information because I can take the house number and street name and see if that house is still standing to see where my family lived in 1930.

Column #5 is the name of each person whose place of abode on April 1, 1930, was in this family (surname first, then first name and middle initial if there is one) and column #6 is the relationship of the person to the head of the family:

  • Conwell, Edward B. – head
  • Conwell, Zella M. – wife
  • Conwell, Milford R. – son
  • Conwell, Frank R. – son
  • Crouse, John – son-in-law
  • Crouse, Mildred – daughter
  • Crouse, Evelyn J. – grand daughter

Columns #7-#10 are home data:

  • Home owned or rented
  • Value of the home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented
  • Radio set
  • Does this family live on a farm?

From this we can see that Edward Sr. owned their home and it was worth $2,000.00.  I can’t tell for sure whether they owned a radio or not.  The enumerator marked “R” in the columns next to other families who obviously owned radios, but there is an “X” next to Edward Sr.’s census listing so while I suspect they did own a radio, I can’t be certain.  And further up the census listing, the enumerator indicated “No farms in this block”.

Columns #11-#15 are personal description data:

  • Sex
  • Color or race
  • Age at last birthday
  • Marital condition
  • Age at first marriage

This is pretty self-explanatory information.  Great information to get off this census is the age at last birthday because it can help pin down a birth date if you don’t already have that and age at first marriage because it can help you pin down a marriage date for the first marriage of the person listed.  Keep in mind that if the spouse listed on the census listing isn’t the person’s first marriage this could cause a little confusion but it can also clue you in to when the first marriage occurred.  It’s somewhat of a double-edged sword.

Columns #16-#17 are education information:

  • Attended school or college any time since September 1, 1929
  • Whether able to read or write

None of the family attended school that year and all but baby Evelyn were able to read and write, which says a lot about the family since many people still struggled to get a decent education in 1930.  Many people had to stop school and go to work to help support their families, resulting in an incomplete education.

Moving to part #2 of the census record:


Section #2 Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family on the 1930 U.S. Census

Columns #18-#20 are information on place of birth:

  • Person
  • Father
  • Mother

This is a gold mine of location information.  The enumerator has taken the time to list each person’s birth location and the birth locations of their parents (as provided by the person providing the census information).  As you can see, everyone was U.S. born and most were born in the Midwest in either Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois or Nebraska.

Column #21 and #21a-c are questions about the person’s native language:

  • 21: Language spoken in home before coming to the United States
  • a: (Code) State or MLT
  • b: (Code) Country
  • c: (Code) blank on the form

Columns #22-#23 are citizenship information:

  • Year of immigration to the United States
  • Naturalized or alien

By this time, this part of my family was all U.S. born so these columns didn’t apply.

Column #24 is whether the person is able to speak English or not.  The entire family was able to speak English.

Moving on to part #3 of the census record:


Section #3 Edward Bell Conwell, Sr. family listing on the 1930 U.S. Census

Columns #25-#27 are occupation and industry information:

  • Occupation (trade, profession, or particular kind of work, as spinner, salesman, riveter, etc.)
  • Industry (industry or business, as cottonmill, dry goods store, shipyard, public school, etc.)
  • Code
  • Class or worker

Most of the family worked as laborers, but Zella was working as an operator for some type of factory, Milford was a sales clerk for a grocery store and Frank was working for a nursery.  I can’t tell where John Crouse was a laborer at, it almost looks like he was a laborer for grading.

Columns #28-#29 are questions about employment:

  • Yes or no (whether actually at work)
  • Line number for unemployed

It seems Edward Sr. was unemployed at some point.  Because he was unemployed, he has an additional line number associated with his census line.  Unfortunately the FAQs about the 1930 Census indicate the unemployment schedules no longer exist, so any information on this schedule has been lost.

Columns #30-#31 are veteran information:

  • Yes or no (whether a veteran of the U.S. military or naval forces mobilized for any war or expedition)
  • What war or expedition

None of this family served as veterans.

Column #32 is “No. of farm schedule”.  The farm schedule was a supplemental set of questions for farms and didn’t apply to Edward Sr. and his family.

The 1930 census can contain a wealth of information for genealogists.  There are several ways to access the census records, from using Ancestry.com (if you don’t have a paid subscription to Ancestry, check out your local library or Family History Center for free usage opportunities) for indexed images to using some of the non-indexed sites and paging thru the census record pages one by one.  I prefer the indexed version, however, going through page by page can wield treasures of its own.  Additional family members have been discovered in this manner and it can also give you a picture of who was living around your ancestor.

Genealogy Basics: The 1940 Census

Census records.  Every genealogist uses them at one point or another.  They’re a great source of information as long as you keep in mind the possibility for errors to be found within the census records.

The United States has taken a federal census every 10 years since 1790.  The first census enumeration contained a limited amount of information.  Each following enumeration asked for a little more information each time.  Today we’re going to take a look at some information you can find in the census records.  Since you always want to start with the latest record available we’re going to start with the 1940 census and work our way back.

The 1940 census was enumerated in April.  Let’s look at a copy of a census record for my family.  I know my grandfather was living in Kansas City, Missouri when the 1940 census was enumerated.  Here’s a copy of the record, broken down into two parts so it’s readable:


First half of Edward Bell Conwell, Jr. family listing on the 1940 U.S. Census

 


Second half of Edward Bell Conwell, Jr. family listing on the 1940 U.S. Census

Columns #1 and #2 are the location information:

  • Street, avenue, road, etc.
  • House number (in cities and towns)

The house he’s listed at is still standing and I was fortunate to spend summers there growing up as a child.

Columns #3-#6 are household data:

  • Number of household in order of visitation
  • Home owned or rented
  • Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented
  • Whether the household is on a farm

It surprised me to discover that grandpa Edward’s house is listed as rented and he was paying $18 per month rental fee.  I was always under the impression that he was purchasing the house.  Add finding out when he purchased the home to my list of things to research.

Column #7 is the name of each person who’s residence was in the household at the time of enumeration and column #8 is the relationship of the person to the head of household.  Grandpa Edward is listed with his (first) wife, Ada J., and…SURPRISE!…mother-in-law, Stella (so if I didn’t already know Ada’s maiden name, I could have gotten it from this census).  Grandpa Edward didn’t talk much about his first wife, so I never knew that mother-in-law resided with them.


Edward Conwell listed with wife, Ada J., and mother-in-law, Stella Correll

Columns #9-#12 are the personal description fields:

  • Sex
  • Color or race
  • Age at last birthday
  • Marital status

Grandpa Edward and Ada were 35 and 36, white and married, while mother-in-law, Stella, was 58, white and widowed.

Columns #13 and #14 are questions regarding education:

  • Attended school or college since March 1, 1940
  • Highest grade of school completed

While Grandpa Edward completed high school, Ada completed seventh grade and Stella completed fourth grade.  None attended school during the year.

Column #15 is the person’s place of birth and column #16 is whether the person is a U.S. citizen or foreign born.  The whole family was born in Missouri and they were all U.S. citizens.  Columns #17-#20 are questions regarding the residence:

  • The city, town or village having 2,500 or more inhabitants or “R” for all other places
  • County
  • State or territory/foreign country
  • Whether the residence was a farm

I can’t say these columns were very informative since they were either left blank or filled in with the words “Same Place”.

Columns #21-#34 are all questions about employment status (for persons 14 years old and over):

  • Was this person at work for pay or profit in private or non-emergency government work during the week of March 24-30?
  • If not, was this person at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during the week of March 24-30?
  • If not at work or assigned to public emergency work were they seeking work?
  • If not at work or assigned to public emergency work did they have a job, business, etc.?
  • If the person answered no to any of the previous questions, indicate if they were engaged in housework, school, unable to work or other
  • If at private or non-emergency government work (from column #21), number of hours worked during the week of March 24-30, 1940
  • If seeking work or assigned to public emergency work (from column #22 or #23), duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940 – in weeks

That last section is pretty large.  Sometimes the columns are fully completed, sometimes they’re not.  In this case, the columns are mostly filled in and I learned that Grandpa Edward was working for pay and Ada was keeping house.  Yet another surprise, Stella is listed as working for pay as well.  As we move down the census form we discover that Stella is working as a seamstress in the wholesale clothing industry and Grandpa Edward is working as a plumber in (of course) the plumbing industry.  Both Stella and Edward are listed as “PW” under class of worker, which meant they were a wage/salary worker in private work (a chart of symbols/explanatory notes for the 1940 census can be found here).

The final columns are questions regarding income:

  • Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions)
  • Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary?
  • Number of farm schedule

It’s interesting to see that Grandpa Edward was making just over $1300 per year in 1939.  Stella wasn’t doing too bad as a seamstress at just over $575 per year.  They were not included on a farm schedule.

The 1940 census contains a wealth of information for genealogists.  There are several ways to access the census records, from using Ancestry.com (if you don’t have a paid subscription to Ancestry, check out your local library or Family History Center for free usage opportunities) for indexed images to using some of the non-indexed sites and paging thru the census record pages one by one.  I prefer the indexed version, however, going through page by page can wield treasures of its own.  Additional family members have been discovered in this manner and it can also give you a picture of who was living around your ancestor.

Have you made any surprising discoveries about your ancestors from the 1940 census?  What piece of information are you glad the government included on this census?

Next up, what’s on the 1930 census?

Tombstone Tuesday – Russell Lee Conwell

Welcome to another edition of Tombstone Tuesday!

Continuing our journey in Mount Washington Cemetery, today’s tombstone belongs to Russell Lee Conwell, infant son of Edward Conwell and Edith (Brown) Conwell (my grandparents).  Russell was the third child of Edward and Edith.  He has two sisters (still living) and one brother (still living).

Russell was born 8 August 1948 in Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri and died 10 August 1948 in Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri.  He is buried next to his parents (my grandparents) in Mount Washington Cemetery in Independence, Jackson, Missouri.

Thanks for stopping by Tombstone Tuesday!