Understanding the 1900 Census Questions

The twelfth census of the United States was conducted under the terms of the census act of March 3, 1899, and supervised by the Director of the Census, William R. Merriam. The enumeration was conducted in each state and organized territory, including Washington, DC, Alaska, Hawaii, and “Indian Territory.” The census was taken as of June 1, 1900, and was to be completed in 2 weeks in places of 8,000 inhabitants or more (as of the 1890 Census) and 1 month in rural districts. The United States and its territories were divided into 297 supervisors’ districts, which were subdivided into 52,726 enumeration districts.

The enumeration of military and naval personnel (within the country and abroad) was conducted through the Departments of War and the Navy. Similarly, the enumeration of the “Indian Territory” was carried out in cooperation with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Large institutions (prisons, hospitals, etc.) were enumerated through the appointment of special “institution” enumerators.

Enumerators were much more closely supervised during the 1900 Census. In large cities, special agents were appointed to assist the census supervisor. Enumerators used “street books,” in which a record of each enumerator’s work was made on a daily basis. Enumerators used individual census slips for obtaining a correct return for any person (particularly lodgers and boarders) absent at the time of the enumerator’s visit. Additionally, “absent family” schedules were used for securing a complete record for any person residing within the enumeration district, but temporarily absent.

1900 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The 1900 census covered the following states:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska (unorganized)
  3. Arizona Territory
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Florida
  11. Georgia
  12. Hawaii
  13. Idaho
  14. Illinois
  15. Indiana
  16. Iowa
  17. Kansas
  18. Kentucky
  19. Louisiana
  20. Maine
  21. Maryland
  22. Massachusetts
  23. Michigan
  24. Minnesota
  25. Mississippi
  26. Missouri
  27. Montana
  28. Nebraska
  29. Nevada
  30. New Hampshire
  31. New Jersey
  32. New Mexico Territory
  33. New York
  34. North Carolina
  35. North Dakota
  36. Ohio
  37. Oklahoma Territory
  38. Oregon
  39. Pennsylvania
  40. Rhode Island
  41. South Carolina
  42. South Dakota
  43. Tennessee
  44. Texas
  45. Utah
  46. Vermont
  47. Virginia
  48. Washington
  49. West Virginia
  50. Wisconsin
  51. Wyoming

Information Found Within the 1900 Census

  • Name of each person.
  • Name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family resides
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Color (Race)
  • Birthplace
  • Whether married in the last year
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over 15 years of age
  • Value of Real Estate
  • Whether deaf, blind, dumb, insane, idiotic, pauper, or criminal
  • Whether able to speak or speak English
  • Whether the person attended school within the previous year
  • Birthplace of father and mother

Genealogy Strategy for the 1900 Census

  1. Location of the Household
    As in all census, the location of the household at the time the census was taken becomes a valuable tool for further research allowing you to concentrate on records of that time period in that particular location. The 1900 census will provide you the district, township, and county of your ancestor. It is also the first census to provide the name of the street and house number in urban areas.
  2. Establishing the Composition of a Family
    The 1900 census identified the relationship to the head of household of other household residents.
  3. Age of Inhabitants
    The 1900 census indicates the month and year in which each person was born.
  4. Tracking the Migration
    The 1900 census provides the birthplace of each individual along with the birthplaces of each parent for that person, making it much easier to track the origin of a family. Genealogists should always be cautious of any information provided a census taker, and realize that many ancestors for their own reasons would not provide accurate answers to this type of a question due to the prejudices of the time.
  5. Occupation
    The occupation of each family member over 15 is recorded. A mention of a profession would indicate possible search of a professional directory. Clergy were enumerated as well under occupation, and the genealogist should search within the records of the denomination indicated.
  6. Foreigners
    The 1900 census indicate the person’s parents’ birthplaces.
  7. Real Estate
    An indication of real estate value might point to land or tax records.
  8. At School
    An indication of being at school within a household might point to local school records.
  9. Insane
    An indication of insane within a household might point to guardianship or institutional records.1
  10. Convict
    The indication of a persons enumeration as a convict is rare, unless the census actually finds them in the jail at the time of the census. Furthermore, a person in jail, may be listed twice, if his home was in a different district. Instructions given to the enumerator was to ask, or use their own knowledge and county records as a source, in identifying those who had been a “criminal” within the past year.
  11. Native American Research
    Indian schedules were normally placed at the end of a county schedule, but in some cases, were attached to the end of the state schedule.
  12. Parents Birthplace Location
    The parents birthplace location is provided.

1900 Census Forms

1900 Census,

Partridge, Dennis N. United States Census Guide. Copyright 2008-2013.

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