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18 April 2013

Census: Enumeration

1930 U.S. Census. Illinois, Will, Lockport. ED 99-65. Sheet 20A. William Schuler. National Archives. Washington, D. C. Ancestry. com. Accessed 14 April 2013

When genealogists talk about the U.S. Population Schedule Census, words such as enumeration, enumerator, ED, or enumeration district occur. What do these mean and how do they apply to the census? According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the definition of enumerate is “to ascertain the number of: count” and “to specify one after another: list.” This topic will be discussed in two articles. The first includes the enumerator and enumeration questions. The second includes the enumeration district number or ED.
Check the information at the top of each page. From 1790 until 1840, the enumeration date is given; the date the count was made. From 1850 until 1870, the enumerator signs as Ass’t Marshal. From 1880 onward, the enumerator signs as Enumerator.

Enumerator: The person, who progresses from abode to abode, asks the questions and writes the answers on the census page. The questions vary with each census. For detailed instructions, the researcher should become familiar with Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses from 1790 to 2000 available at the U.S. Census Bureau website.

Examples of census enumerations:
  • 1790 the name of the head of the household and number of free white males and free white females by age and number of slaves
  • 1820 to 1840 the name of the head of the household and number of free white males and free white females by age, number of slaves, and free colored persons
  • 1850 and 1860 all free inhabitants by name, relationship not given, a separate mortality schedule, and slave schedule
  • 1870 every person by name except Indians not taxed
  • 1880 relationship to head of house, Indian schedule
  • 1900 month and year of birth, education, home ownership
  • 1910 native language of the foreign born, year of immigration
  • 1920 age of children under 5 years to be given in years and months, no Indian schedule
  • 1930 employment and unemployment
  • 1940 every person’s location in 1935
The U.S. Population Schedule Census is divided into Enumeration Districts. 
At the top of each census page from 1880 upward, an enumeration district number is recorded for each district. 
Enumeration District Number or ED: the number assigned to each enumeration area. The area covered by one enumerator. The enumeration begins at the state level. Supervisors are assigned counties. The counties are divided into ED’s. Every state uses the same numbering system, usually alphabetical by counties, then alphabetical by city names. Beginning with the 1930 census, the ED consists of two numbers separated by a hyphen. The prefix corresponds with the county and suffix corresponds with a specific location. Example, Georgia, Appling, Tillman, Militia District 443 has the Enumeration District number 1-1; Georgia, Fulton, Atlanta Borough, First Ward has the Enumeration District number 61-1; Georgia, Wilkes, Washington, Washington City-north part has the Enumeration District number 159-1.
Maps of the Enumeration Districts are available at the National Archives website or Steve Morse One Step website or USGenWeb Census Project.

U.S. Population Census questions or suggestions, contact Selma Blackmon.

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