52 Documents in 52 Weeks #41: All Censuses Are Not Created Equal

If you have spent much time reading U.S. census records, you already know that not all census record information is the same. In fact, data collected every ten years was often significantly different than the decennial census immediately preceding it. The best examples of that are probably the huge change from the 1840 head of household name only with male and female tick marks to the 1850 census which listed all members in a household, although their relationship to the head was not stated. Another huge change was the basic 1880 census to the much more modern 1900 U.S. census, which recorded more data about its residents than had ever been collected before.

Have you ever read census records for ancestors living in another country? Many times, I’ve wished that my ancestors lived in X country because of the information that was recorded in those census records;

First, take a look at an entry in the 1850 census of Copenhagen, Denmark:

Jensen Family, 1850, Copenhagen, Denmark

This isn’t the easiest entry to read, but the arrow points to Johanne Elisabeth Jensen fodt Molin. The really important part is fodt Molin, which translates to born Molin. Yes, the Danish censuses include the maiden names of all married women! How great is that?

The 1900 U.S. census included the month and year of birth for each person. The 1901 Canadian census went one step better:

Astle Family, New Brunswick, Canada – Exact Dates of Birth

Canada recorded the EXACT date of birth for each person.

The 1869 census of Hungary, which included today’s Slovakia and other areas, recorded the religion of each person:

Lukavits Family, 1869, “rom kat”

The Lukavits family was rom kat, or Roman Catholic. You might also notice that the wife’s maiden name is give – Leskovits.

If you have avoided reading foreign census records, you need to put that notion aside and jump in now. I have been thrilled with many details that I have found in those records and, as most use a pre-printed form with columns, not being able to read the language hasn’t been a deterrent.


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