>The Census of 1850, 1860 and 1870

>After a great conversation with a friend that started out about suspenders and led to mining corruption and the number of Chinese helping to build the railroads (and I am pretty sure we took a sidetrip to consider how much stardust is accumulating on the moon), I recalled once seeing the census of Virginia City, Montana in 1870. How the conversation leads to census, well . . .

Click here to scroll through the census list. The data is sorted by last name. When you get to “Chinaman”, does that give you great pause? It did me.

Something else to give a person great pause— a list of questions asked in the 1850 Census. Compare them to the ones we are being asked today.

The Census of 1850

Schedule 1. Free Inhabitants in _________, in the County of ________, State of _________, enumerated by me, on the _____ day of ___________, 1850. ___________________, Ass’t. Marshal.

1. Dwelling houses and number in order of visitation.
2. Families numbered in the order of visitation.
3. The name of every person whose usual place of abode on the 1st day of June, 1850, was in this family.
4. Age.
5. Sex.
6. Color – White, black, or mulatto.
7. Profession, occupation, or trade of each male person over 15 years of age.
8. Value of real estate owned.
9. Place of birth, naming the state, territory, or country.
10. Married within the year.
11. Attended school within the year.
12. Persons over 20 years of age who can not read and write.
13. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict.

Schedule 2. Slave Inhabitants in _________, in the County of ________, State of _________, enumerated by me, on the _____ day of ___________, 1850. ___________________, Ass’t. Marshal.

1. Names of slave owners.
2. Number of slaves.
3. Age.
4. Sex.
5. Color.
6. Fugitives.
7. Number manumitted.
8. Deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic.

And finally: here is a link to pages and pages of 1860 Census Conclusions such as this: In 1860 for every one Irish emigrant living in the USA, there were only five remaining in Ireland. For every one German emigrant, there were thirty-three. No wonder most of my conversations detour to talk of stardust on the moon. The truth of our past often hurts. Today’s truth? How much of today will still be with us 1.5 centuries later?

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

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