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1850 Census Instructions to Enumerators

The below text is excerpted on pages 9 from Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000.

1850 Questionnaire - Free Inhabitants

Instructions to Marshals and Assistants

This schedule is to be filled up in the following manner:

Insert in the heading the name or number of the district, town, or city of the county or parish, and of the state, and the day of the month upon which the enumeration was taken. This is to be attested on each page of each set, by the signature of the assistant.

The several columns are to be filled as follows:

1. Under heading 1, entitled ‘‘Dwelling houses numbered in the order of visitation,’’ insert the number of dwelling houses occupied by free inhabitants, as they are visited. The first house visited to be numbered 1; the second one visited, 2; the third one visited, 3; and so on to the last house visited in the subdivision. By a dwelling house is meant a separate inhabited tenement, containing one or more families under one roof. Where several tenements are in one block, with walls either of brick or wood to divide them, having separate entrances, they are each to be numbered as separate houses; but where not so divided, they are to be numbered as one house.

If a house is used partly for a store, shop, or for other purposes, and partly for a dwelling house, it is to be numbered as a dwelling house. Hotels, poorhouses, garrisons, hospitals, asylums, jails, penitentiaries, and other similar institutions, are each to be numbered as a dwelling house; where the house is of a public nature, as above, write perpendicularly under the number, in said column, the name or description, as ‘‘hotel,’’ ‘‘poorhouse,’’ etc.

2. Under heading 2, entitled ‘‘Family numbered in the order of visitation,’’ insert the number of the families of free persons, as they are visited. The first family visited by the assistant marshal is to be numbered 1; the second one visited, 2; and so on to the last one visited in his district.

By the term family is meant, either one person living separately in a house, or a part of a house, and providing for him or herself, or several persons living together in a house, or in part of a house, upon one common means of support, and separately from others in similar circumstances. A widow living alone and separately providing for herself, or 200 individuals living together and provided for by a common head, should each be numbered as one family.

The resident inmates of a hotel, jail, garrison, hospital, an asylum, or other similar institution, should be reckoned as one family.

3. Under heading 3, entitled ‘‘The name of every person whose usual place of abode on the 1st day of June, 1850, was in this family,’’ insert the name of every free person in each family, of every age, including the names of those temporarily absent, as well as those that were at home on that day. The name of any member of a family who may have died since the 1st day of June is to be entered and described as if living, but the name of any person born since the 1st day of June is to be omitted. The names are to be written, beginning with the father and mother; or if either, or both, be dead, begin with some other ostensible head of the family; to be followed, as far as practicable, with the name of the oldest child residing at home, then the next oldest, and so on to the youngest, then the other inmates, lodgers and borders, laborers, domestics, and servants.

All landlords, jailors, superintendents of poorhouses, garrisons, hospitals, asylums, and other similar institutions, are to be considered as heads of their respective families, and the inmates under their care to be registered as members thereof, and the details concerning each designated in their proper columns. Indians not taxed are not to be enumerated in this or any other schedule.

By place of abode is meant the house or usual lodging place of a person. Anyone who is temporarily absent on a journey, or for other purposes, without taking up his place of residence elsewhere, and with the intention of returning again, is to be considered a member of the family which the assistant marshal is enumerating.

Students in colleges, academies, or schools, when absent from the families to which they belong, are to be enumerated only as members of the family in which they usually boarded and lodged on the 1st day of June.

Assistant marshals are directed to make inquiry at all stores, shops, eating houses, and other similar places, and take the name and description of every person who usually slept there, provided such person is not otherwise enumerated.

Inquiries are to be made at every dwelling house, or of the head of every family. Those only who belong to such family, and consider it their home or usual place of abode, whether present or temporarily absent on a visit, journey, or a voyage, are to be enumerated. Persons on board of vessels accidentally or temporarily in port, those whose only habitation was the vessel to which they belong, those who are temporarily boarding for a few days as a sailors’ boarding or lodging house, if they belong to other places are not to be enumerated as the population of a place.

The sailors and hands of a revenue cutter which belongs to a particular port should be enumerated as of such port. A similar rule will apply to those employed in the navigation of the lakes, rivers, and canals. All are to be taken at their homes or usual places of abode, whether present or absent; and if any live on board of vessels or boats who are not so enumerated, they are to be taken as of the place where the vessel or boat is owned, licensed, or registered. And the assistant marshals are to make inquiry at every vessel and boat employed in the internal navigation of the United States, and enumerate those who are not taken as belonging to a family on shore; and all persons of such description in any one vessel are to be considered as belonging to one family and the vessel their place of abode. The assistants in all seaports will apply at the proper office for lists of all persons on a voyage at sea and register all citizens of the United States who have not been registered as belonging to some family.

Errors necessarily occurred in the last census in enumerating those employed in navigation, because no uniform rule was adopted for the whole United States. Assistant marshals are required to be particular in following the above directions, that similar errors may now be avoided.

4. Under heading 4, entitled ‘‘Age,’’ insert in figures what was the specific age of each person at his or her last birthday previous to the 1st of June, opposite the name of such person. If the exact age in years can not be ascertained, insert a number which shall be the nearest approximation to it.

The age, either exact or estimated, of everyone, is to be inserted.

If the person be a child under 1 year old, the entry is to be made by the fractional parts of a year, thus: One month, one-twelfth; two months, two-twelfths; three months, threetwelfths, and so on to eleven months, eleven-twelfths.

5. Under heading 5, entitled ‘‘Sex,’’ insert the letter M for male, and F for female, opposite the name, in all cases, as the fact may be.

6. Under heading 6, entitled ‘‘Color,’’ in all cases where the person is white, leave the space blank; in all cases where the person is black, insert the letter B; if mulatto, insert M. It is very desirable that these particulars be carefully regarded.

7. Under head 7, entitled ‘‘Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over 15 years of age,’’ insert opposite the name of each male the specific profession, occupation, or trade which the said person is known and reputed to follow in the place where he resides—as clergyman, physician, lawyer, shoemaker, student, farmer, carpenter, laborer, tailor, boatman, sailor, or otherwise, as the fact may be. When more convenient, the name of the article he produces may be substituted

When the individual is a clergyman, insert the initials of the denomination to which he belongs before his profession—as Meth. for Methodist, R.C. for Roman Catholic, O.S.P. for Old School Presbyterian, or other appropriate initials, as the fact may be. When a person follows several professions or occupations the name of the principal one only is to be given. If a person follows no particular occupation, the space is to be filled with the word ‘‘none.’’

8. Under the heading 8 insert the value of real estate owned by each individual enumerated. You are to obtain the value of real estate by inquiry of each individual who is supposed to own real estate, be the same located where it may, and insert the amount in dollars. No abatement of the value is to be made on account of any lien or encumbrance thereon in the nature of debt.

9. Under the heading 9, ‘‘Place of birth.’’ The marshal should ask the place of birth of each person in the family. If born in the State or Territory where they reside, insert the name or initials of the State or Territory, or the name of the government or country if without the United States. The names of the several States may be abbreviated.

Where the place of birth is unknown, state ‘‘unknown.’’

10. Under heading No. 10 make a mark, or dash, opposite the name of each person married during the year previous to the 1st of June, whether male or female.

11. Under heading 11, entitled ‘‘At school within the last year.’’ The marshal should ask what member of this family has been at school within the last year; he is to insert a mark, thus, (1), opposite the names of all those, whether male or female, who have been at educational institutions within that period. Sunday schools are not to be included.

12. Under the heading 12, entitled ‘‘Persons over 20 years of age who can not read and write.’’ The marshal should be careful to note all persons in each family, over 20 years of age, who can not read and write, and opposite the name of each make a mark, thus, (1). The spaces opposite the names of those who can read and write are to be left blank. If the person can read and write a foreign language, he is to be considered as able to read and write.

13. Heading 13, entitled ‘‘Deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict.’’ The assistant marshal should ascertain if there be any person in the family deaf, dumb, idiotic, blind, insane, or pauper. If so, who? And insert the term ‘‘deaf and dumb,’’ ‘‘blind,’’ ‘‘insane,’’ and idiotic,‘‘ opposite the name of such persons, as the fact may be. When persons who had been convicted of crime within the year reside in families on the 1st of June, the fact should be stated, as in the Measuring America other cases of criminals; but as the interrogatory might give offence, the assistants had better refer to the county record for information on this head, and not make the inquiry of any family. With the county record and his own knowledge he can seldom err. Should a poorhouse, asylum for the blind, insane or idiotic, or other charitable institution, or a penitentiary, a jail, house of refuge, or other place of punishment, be visited by the assistant marshal, he must number such building in its regular order, and he must write after the number, and perpendicularly in the same column (No. 1) the nature of such institution—that it is a penitentiary, jail, house of refuge, as the case may be; and in column 13, opposite the name of each person, he must state the character of the infirmity or misfortune, in the one case, and in the other he must state the crime for which each inmate is confined, and of which such person was convicted; and in column No. 3, with the name, give the year of conviction, and fill all the columns concerning age, sex, color, etc., with as much care as in the case of other individuals.

Slave Inhabitants

(12 1/2″ X 17 1/2,″ printed on two sides with space for 40 entries on each side)

The 1850 questionnaire relating to slave inhabitants collected the names of slave owners; number of slaves; the slaves color, sex, age, and whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic; the numbers of fugitives from the state; and the number manumitted.

Instructions to Marshals and Assistants

This schedule is to be filled up in the following manner:

Insert in the heading the number or name of the district, town, city, and the county or parish, and of the state in which the slave inhabitants enumerated reside, and the day of the month upon which the enumeration was taken. This is to be attested on each page of each set, by the signature of the assistant marshal. The several columns are to be filled up as follows:

1. Under heading 1, entitled ‘‘Name of slave holders,’’ insert, in proper order, the names of the owners of slaves. Where there are several owners to a slave, the name of one only need be entered, or when owned by a corporation or trust estate, the name of the trustee or corporation.

2. Under heading 2, entitled ‘‘Number of slaves,’’ insert, in regular numerical order, the number of all slaves of both sexes and of each age, belonging to such owners. In the case of slaves, numbers are to be substituted for names. The number of every slave who usually resides in the district enumerated is to be entered, although he may happen to be temporarily absent.

The slaves of each owner are to be numbered separately, beginning at No. 1, and a separate description of each is to be given. The person in whose family, or on whose plantation, the slave is found to be employed, is to be considered the owner—the principal object being to get the number of slaves, and not that of masters or owners.

3. Under heading 3, entitled ’’Age,’’ insert, in figures, the specific age of each slave opposite the number of such slave. If the exact age can not be ascertained, insert a number which shall be the nearest approximation to it. The age of every slave, either exact or estimated, is to be inserted. If the slave be a child which, on the 1st of June, was under 1 year old, the entry is to be made by fractional parts of a year; thus, one month old, one-twelfth; two months, two-twelfths; three months, three-twelfths; eleven months, eleventwelfths; keeping ever in view, in all cases, that the age must be estimated at no later period than the 1st of June.

4. Under heading 4, entitled ‘‘Sex,’’ insert the letter M for male, and F for female opposite the number in all cases, as the fact may be.

5. Under heading 5, entitled ‘‘Color,’’ insert in all cases, when the slave is black, the letter B; when he or she is mulatto, insert M. The color of all slaves should be noted.

6. Under heading 6 insert, in figures, opposite the name of the slave owner, the number of slaves who, having absconded within the year, have not been recovered.

7. In column 7, insert opposite the name of the former owner thereof, the number of slaves manumitted within the year. The name of the person is to be given, although at the time of the enumeration such person may not have held slaves on the 1st of June. In such case, no entry is to be made in column No. 2.

8. Under heading 8, entitled ‘‘Deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic,’’ the assistant should ascertain if any of these slaves be deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic; and if so, insert opposite the name or number of such slave, the term deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic, as the fact may be. If slaves be found imprisoned convicts, mention the crime in column 8, and the date of conviction before the number in vacant space below the name of the owner. The convict slaves should be numbered with the other slaves of their proper owner.

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