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!

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About Danni 111 Articles
Join me on my genealogical journey where I hope my experiences, discoveries, mistakes and successes will help you on your journey. We'll throw in some bits of history for a little flavor and that is what makes up Talking Box Genealogy.

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