Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week


1790 TO 2000

In 2002, Jason Gauthier of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Economics and Statistics Administration produced a 148-page document called Measuring America: The Decennial Census from 1790 to 2000. It explains, in detail, exactly what the census takers were told to do for each and every U.S. Census from the first census in 1790 through the twenty-second census of 2000.

This document will prove invaluable.   Besides a good, clear image of each census form itself, you’ll find an expanded definition for every column on the form.   No more straining your eyes or guessing.

Reading the instructions to the enumerators tells you what terms such a “housekeeper” vs “keeping house”, “farmer” vs “planter”, or “inmate” meant in the context of the census. And why “indians not taxed” weren’t included in the enumerations.   Were you even aware there was a separate questionnaire for “Indian Population” in many of the censuses?

There is just a wealth of information in this document.  Check it out.  It’s available to read on-line, or to download, absolutely free, at: