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USGenWeb Free Census Project Help, 1890 Census Help

Remember, please sign up with a State Census Coordinator before beginning a transcription.


The following following are available to our volunteer transcribers so that our file managers can convert them to the standardized text output to meet the goals of the project.

CENTRANS (MAC & PC) Centrans Instructions and Help

We have the following templates available for download:
MSExCel Spreadsheet | MSWorks Spreadsheet | Tab Text Templates [Note: These are zipped and are also available by request from Maggie Stewart. Please use "templates" as the subject of your email and include what year and type of template that you need.]

Before you begin transcribing, you may want to look at Old Handwriting to see examples of old writing styles. You will need to copy EVERYTHING that is on your census. The following is a list of fields in the 1890 Census, and a brief description of what to do with the data in each field.

VERY IMPORTANT: (1) If a date is unreadable, you should replace the unreadable numbers with an asterisk(*). For example, "18*9". Make a note of it in the remarks column. (2) If a text field is unreadable, enter the letter "U" in the smaller fields and the word "Unreadable" in the larger fields. Make a note of it in the remarks column. (3) Enter exactly what you see in each field unless noted below. Avoid the urge to correct the census taker's errors. (4) Never use ditto(") marks in any fields. The search engine will not understand them. Replace the ditto(") marks with the word they were used for. (5) If any of the fields in the census have a checkmark or some other non-letter mark, you may replace it with an "X".

Census Year: You need to type in the year you are working on. This will only need to be done once per template.

Reel/Microfilm #: Enter the reel # or microfilm # of the census you are working on.

State: The state can be found in the top section of the census page. Enter the two letter code for the state you are working on.

County: The county is listed in the top section.

Town/Township: This is listed in the top section as "Township or other division of county _________". An example would be "Banner Township"

Enumeration Date: This is listed in the top section as "Enumerated by me on the _______ day of _________ 1890." For example, enter this as "June XX, 1890".

Supervisor District #: This is in the top section.

Enumeration District #: This is in the top section.

Enumerator: This is in the top section.

Sheet #: This is in the top section.

Page #: After the census was finished, the pages were bound into books with two pages facing each other and a page number was stamped on the upper right hand corner, leaving the other page blank. The pages are now known as A and B pages (for example: 17A and 17B). When the census was microfilmed, the photographers wrote numbers in pencil, which are often out of order. In the field for page numbers, you will enter the STAMPED number including the A or the B after the number AND in the remarks section for the first person you enter on each page, note what the handwritten page number is. An example would "Handwritten page # 1". For more on page numbers, see the FAQs.

Line #: With a template, you will need to enter each line number as you enter each new person. The line number is located at the far left of the page before the columns start.

Street: If there is an entry here, enter what you see. The street was more often filled in when the census was taken in a city and not in a rural area.

House #: If there is an entry here, enter what you see. The house # was more likely filled in when the census was taken in a city and not in a rural area.

Dwelling #: Enter what you see. Don't worry if the numbering is not in order. Sometimes, in this column or the next (or both), the census taker would write in a word such as "Jail" or "Boarding House". If you see something like this, enter the word in the column if it is a small word. If it is a large word, please note it in the remarks section.

Family #: See above.

Name: You are going to separate the name into two columns on the template: "Surname" (last name) and "Given name" (first and middle names). These must be entered EXACTLY as you see them. Even if it is your own family and the name is misspelled, avoid the urge to change it. If there are ditto(") marks or a dash(-) indicating the same last name as the previous person, enter the name that the ditto(") marks or dash(-) are referring to. If any of the letters are unreadable, use an asterisk(*) instead of the letter. For example, Jo*nso*. If you do this, you should put a note in the remarks section that some letters were unreadable. Place titles, such as Jr., Sr., Dr., etc. at the end of the person's first name(s) - Doe, John Sr. If the given name is abbreviated, such as "Geo." or "Wm", please enter exactly as it appears.

VERY IMPORTANT - You will rarely use "NS" (No Surname). Generally, the census taker used ditto(") marks, dashes(-), or sometimes left the surname of the other members of the household empty.

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
Doe, John Doe, John Doe, John
Mary " Mary --- Mary
Agnes " Agnes --- Agnes
Johnson, Wm. Johnson, Wm. Johnson, Wm.

In Example 1 above, the census taker is indicating that John Doe also has Mary Doe and Agnes Doe living in his house. You will need to enter the surname on all of them. Wm. Johnson is the beginning of the next family.

In Example 2 above, the census taker used ditto(") marks to indicate that Mary and Agnes have the same surname as John Doe. You will need to enter Doe for the surname of Mary and Agnes.

In Example 3 above, the census taker used a dash(-) to indicate that Mary and Agnes have the same surname as John Doe. You will need to enter Doe for the surname of Mary and Agnes.

The ONLY time you will enter "NS" (No Surname) is if they are listed as these examples: "Brother Ignatius"; "Sister Mary"; Native American names such as "Running Doe"; or servants, such as "John, a man of color".

Entering the name might take a bit of detective work to figure out the style of the census taker, but once you get the hang of it you will have no problems.

Color: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Sex: Enter as "M" or "F". If there is no entry or if it is unreadable, enter the letter "U" and make a note in the remarks section. If you find a Nancy marked as a male or a William marked as a female, please enter them as you see them.

Age at Last Birthday: Enter the age seen. Sometimes babies will be listed with something like "8/12" or "0". You should enter it exactly as it is written. If the age is unreadable or empty, enter the letter "U" and make a note in the remarks section.

If Born within the Census Year, give Month: Enter what is listed.

Relationship: Enter what is written. If there are ditto(") marks, enter what they are referring to. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Single: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Married: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Widowed or Divorced: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Married During the Census Year: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Occupation: Enter what is listed as it is spelled. This is a common place to see ditto(") marks or the word "Do". Do NOT use ditto(") marks or the word "Do", enter the word the ditto(") marks stand for.

Months Not Employed: Enter what is listed.

Health if Sick or Disabled: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Blind: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Deaf and Dumb: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Idiotic: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Insane: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Maimed, Crippled or otherwise Disabled: Enter what is listed. If there is no entry, leave it empty.

Place of Birth: Enter exactly what you see. The census taker may have had his own system for abbreviations, and sometimes you can't be sure what he meant.

Attended School within the Year: Enter what is listed.

Cannot Read: Enter what is written.

Cannot Write: Enter what is written.

Place of Birth: Enter exactly what you see. The census taker may have had his own system for abbreviations, and sometimes you can't be sure what he meant.

Father's Birthplace: Enter exactly what you see.

Mother's Birthplace: Enter exactly what you see.

Remarks/Reference: This is for your remarks about unreadable dates, text, etc. You may need to make comments about the entries, note what the handwritten page number is or anything else you feel is important.

 

When transcribing the census, MAKE A BACKUP COPY!

Census Project since 1997

A Gift of the Past for the Future! Started in February, 1997, The USGenWeb Free Census Project is an all-volunteer project to transcribe census records in a standard format in order to make them available to genealogical researchers on the Internet.

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