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 1900 Census

(c) Linda Haas Davenport (Updated 2007)

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The 1900 Census returned to the "multiple families" on a page recording, but once again Congress didn't authorize funds for any additional copies. It is unknown if any county actually made a copy of their census schedules.

In 1940 the Dept of Commerce had the original schedules for the 1900 through the 1940 censuses. Because of storage problems, and with the advent of Microfilm technology, the Commerce Dept had the censuses of 1900-1940 microfilmed and then destroyed the originals. Microfilming was still in it's infancy and these census copies are not the best in the world, but since the originals were destroyed there will never be a chance to refilm them.

This Census marks the first time that the US Census was taken outside of the continental US.

Following its annexation in 1898, Hawaii (where the local government took a census every 6 years from 1866 through 1896) was included in the 1900 census, which also had the first count of the U.S. population abroad (Armed Forces and Government civilian employees, and their households).

The War Department carried out an enumeration in Puerto Rico in 1899 following that island's acquisition from Spain in 1898 (there were periodic censuses from 1765 to 1887 under Spanish rule), and there have been decennial censuses in the Commonwealth (its status since 1952) from 1910 onward.

The Census Bureau compiled and published one census of the Philippine Islands following their accession by the United States in 1898; this census was taken under the direction of the Philippine Commission in 1903. (Under Spanish rule, there had been censuses in 1818 and 1876. The Philippine legislature directed a census in 1918, and the Commonwealth's statistical office began periodic enumerations in 1939. The Philippines became an independent republic in 1946.)

The Isthmian Canal Commission ordered a general census of the Panama Canal Zone when the United States took control of the area in 1904; there was another general census in 1912 and several special censuses at various times, but the Canal Zone was included in the U.S. censuses from 1920 to 1970. (Sovereignty over the Zone was transferred to the Republic of Panama in 1979.)

The United States occupied Guam in 1899, and the local governor conducted a census there in 1901 and later years; the island was included in U.S. censuses from 1920 on.

The governors of American Samoa took censuses at various times after U.S. acquisition in 1900, and the population there was enumerated in U.S. censuses from 1920 onward. (1)

The 1900 Census consisted originally of 7 schedules. Two population schedules (those we always check) one for native Americans and one for all other residents. There were 5 schedules prepared for the 1900 censuses; Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mortality and Social Statistics and crime. It is thought that these schedules were abstracted for their statistics and then destroyed.


1900 Census - United States

State ___________ County ___________ Town/township___________

Microfilm Roll # ______ Date ________ Supervisor's district ______

Enumeration district __ Sheet number _____ page number ____

To be able to fit the abstract form on the page I chopped off the right side of the page above.

Right Side of Census Schedule


The examples above are from an older abstract form. Newer forms are available from several sources, many of them on-line. The top of the form doesn't differ much from the 1910 - State; County; City/Township; Enumeration District; Sheet number; Enumeration date. The body of the two page schedule is broken down as follows: Section 1 - Location: Line number; street; house number; dwelling number in order of visitation; family number in order of visitation. Section 2 - Name of each person whose place of abode on June 1, 1900 was in this family. Include every person alive as of June 1, 1900 Omit children born after June 1, 1900. Section 2 - Relation: Relationship of each person to the head of the family. Section 3 - Personal Description: Color or Race; Sex; Date of Birth - month and year; Age at last birthday; Whether single, married, widowed or divorced; Number of years of present marriage; Mother of how many children; Number of these children living. Section 4 - Nativity: Place of birth of this person; Place of birth of this person's Father; Place of birth of this person's Mother. Section 5 - Citizenship: Year of immigration to the US; Number of years in the US; Naturalization. Section 6 - Occupation, Trade or Profession for each person over 10 years of age. Occupation; Months not employed. Section 7 - Education: Can Read; Can Write; Can speak English. Section 8 - Ownership of Home: Owned or Rented; Owned free or mortgaged; Farm or house; Number of farm schedule.

The Enumeration Date was 1 Jun 1900 with one month allotted to complete the census.

The 1900 census questions are almost the same as the 1890 questions. With the information on this census family researchers should be able to locate marriage records, court records, newspapers, etc. to round out their family.

Many counties began to record vital statistics (birth and deaths) about 1900 although the process was not complete until 1925. Anyone alive on this census might be found in the death records.

The 1900 Census is completely indexed on the SOUNDEX cards. Every name is indexed.

Microfilm - 1,854 Rolls # T623. Enumeration Districts are found in Microfilm publication # T1210, 10 rolls. Soundex Index, 7,846 rolls publication # T-1030 through T-1083. With each state having a T-xxx number. The Soundex for the 1900 census includes every family with the index being listed by the Head of Household's name and the soundex card showing every family member included in the household. If there is a person with a different surname found in the household they do have a card of their own.

The 1900 census has slightly less information than the 1910 census. However much of the information is still the same and the same research methods should be used. The census should be combed and all local and county records should be searched. If you are having trouble locating your ancestors, remember to look for neighbors, check the birthplace of all children and search for records in those places.

By this time you should have a good stack of source documents and lots of information. You will need it because unless you're one of the lucky people whose ancestors lived in one of the few counties for which the 1890 censuses survived the fire, you will have to jump back 20 years in your research to the 1880 census.

There is much less information on the 1880 than on the 1900 census schedules. Before you leave the 1900s censuses be sure you have as much information on your ancestors as possible. And, unless you have found in your research that your family was still in the same county you will need something to point you to the location of your family in 1880. When I first wrote this article in 2000 there were almost no indexes available for the 1860-1880 censuses. I'm glad to say that that situation has changed. There are numerous places that have indexes for all census years available. Although a great help to the family historian you still have to have some idea of where your people were located in 1880 to continue to move backwards.


 Clipping furnished by Tim Stowell (no other source):

Last night while looking for something else, I ran across the following clipping which I believe was published circa 1898-1899:

In the Census building, at Washington, a great room is now the scene of bustling activity, the work of preparing portfolios for use by enumerators in the coming count of the population being fairly under way. These portfolios, of whitish-brown pasteboard, hinged together with black cloth, are eighteen inches long and ten wide and tied with four sets of tape. For convenient, accurate and rapid enumeration the United States have been divided into 300 supervisor's districts, and these in turn into about 50,000 enumeration districts, or E.D.'s, as they are called in the census office. Each of the 50,000 enumerators is yet to be appointed, so on the portfolios a blank space is left for his name.

The last census found the unhappy enumerator loaded down with from ten to thirteen schedules, each having voluminous instructions to master which required considerable mental ability and power of memory.

Four schedules, not ten, covering enumerators' inquiries in 1900 --- schedules requiring information about population, vital statistics, manufactures and agriculture. In cities the enumerator will seldom need the agricultural, or in rural districts the manufacturing schedule, so he will infrequently carry more than three.

Frequent complaints and charges of inaccuracy in preceding censuses have arisen from distrust of the enumerators. Not infrequently the gross ignorance of an enumerator rendered his work valueless.

Of the 50,000 enumerators for whose appointment and work the census office must be held responsible, it can have no direct knowledge, but it has prepared and will send out a test schedule which each candidate is expected to fill out according to accompanying instructions. From this schedule, when completed and returned, an idea of his ability to comprehend and follow instructions will be obtained.


As with any of my essays I appreciate any corrections, additional information or comments. [an error occurred while processing this directive]


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