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Genealogy Research

The Surprising Clues Found in the 1910 Census

The 1910 U. S. census provides the genealogy researcher with unique information about your ancestors. Are you recognizing all of the clues to be found?

The federal population census (also known as population schedules), conducted every ten years by the United States Census Bureau, offers a treasure trove of information for genealogy research.

Among these records, the 1910 United States census holds a special place in the hearts of many family historians. This particular census, like others, provides a detailed snapshot of your ancestors’ lives at a specific point in time.

But the true magic lies in learning to search census records and analyze the information beyond just names and dates.

Let’s dig deeper into the 1910 federal census, exploring its unique details and how they can unlock fascinating stories about your ancestors. We’ll also explore the process of analyzing census records, which applies to all federal censuses, not just 1910.

Background black and white photo of older couple on front porch. Red text reading What is the 1910 census Telling you about your ancestor?

Looking Beyond Basic Details: What the 1910 Census Reveals

While every census is valuable, the 1910 census records online offer a wealth of information that can illuminate your ancestors’ lives in surprising ways.

In our first example, we are looking at the 1910 census record of Halifax County, VA family Joseph Merritt Talbot [enumerated as Merritt J Talbot]. Specifically we will look at Merritt and his wife Rose.

Sample from the 1910 census record

Location, Date, and Street Address on the 1910 Census

Example of the 1910 census record showing the date

The information at the top of the census page is crucial. It includes the enumeration district (a geographic subdivision used for census taking), county, and town/township where your ancestor resided.

Additionally, the date specifies when the census information was collected.

Example of the 1910 census record showing street address

Here’s my favorite part – Look on the far left side.  

The street where the family lived is written there!  Merritt and Rose home can be placed on “Clarksville on River Rd” in Mecklenburg County, VA.

This detail can be incredibly valuable for piecing together an ancestor’s physical surroundings and potentially locating their former residence.

Marriage Duration and Potential Marriage Date Discovery

Example of the 1910 Census Record showing years of marriage

The marriage column in the 1910 census provides the number of years the couple has been married. This is a goldmine for genealogists!

If you’re struggling to pinpoint an ancestor’s marriage date, the census data can offer an estimated timeframe. In the Talbot example, the record indicates Merritt and Rose had been married for 25 years, placing their marriage year around 1885.

This valuable clue can guide your search for their actual marriage record in county courthouse or state archives.

Untangling Your Family Tree: Children Born and Living

Example of Children in 1910 Census

We’ve talked about this in a previous post.  The census often reveals the number of children born to a couple and how many were still living at the time of the enumeration. In this case, Rose had given birth to nine (9) children, but only seven (7) were living in 1910.

This previously unknown information allows researchers to identify and investigate the missing two children, potentially leading to new branches in the family tree.

Homeownership and Research Expansion

Home Ownership in the 1910 Census Record

Now turn your attention to the right hand columns. [Sometimes these can be a little hard to read.] 

Here, you’ll find a designation indicating whether your ancestor owned [O] or rented [R] their dwelling.

If, like Merritt J Talbot, your ancestor owned their home, adding a deed search to your research plan becomes crucial. Deeds can provide valuable details about the property, such as size, purchase price, and previous owners.

Type of Home and Property Details

The 1910 census also categorized dwellings by type. In the Talbot example, the record identifies their residence as a farm, indicated by the [F] symbol.

Unfortunately, the farm schedules for the 1910 census were destroyed by a congressional order.  {Sigh…}

While this is a setback, it highlights the importance of utilizing various resources alongside census records for a comprehensive picture. Merritt’s home is classified as a farm. 

Occupation and Worker Classification

Occupation in the 1910 Census Record

Another valuable piece of information found in the census is the type of work your ancestor performed. The record might indicate if they worked for themselves [OA – Own Account] or were a wage earner [W].

In the Talbot family, Merritt was classified as working for his own account, signifying he likely ran the farm. His sons, however, were listed as wage earners, suggesting they might have worked as hired hands on their father’s farm or elsewhere.

Survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy

Civil War Veteran in the 1910 Census Record

The 1910 census also included a section dedicated to veterans. If your ancestor served in the Union or Confederate Army or Navy, the record would indicate “yes.”

This information is a clear call to action – adding Civil War military records to your research plan can unveil details about their service history.

Physical Handicaps and Contextualizing Information

The 1910 census also documented physical disabilities. It noted individuals who were deaf, mute (meaning unable to speak), or blind in both eyes.

While this information might not be directly relevant to your family line, it can provide context for your ancestor’s life experiences.

For instance, if a record indicates your ancestor had a hearing impairment, it may explain why certain professions were not pursued or shed light on communication methods used within the family.

What does all this mean to Talbot[t] family researcher?

Let’s revisit the 1910 census record for the Merritt J Talbot family and see how the information gleaned paints a vivid picture of their lives. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Merritt and Rose were married around 1885, suggesting a long and potentially fruitful union.
  • They raised a large family, with seven children living with them in 1910. Unfortunately, two children were no longer living, prompting further research.
  • The Talbots owned their farm on Clarksville/River Road, indicating financial stability and a strong work ethic.
  • Merritt’s occupation as a farmer, coupled with his sons’ status as wage earners, suggests a family-run operation.
  • The lack of a physical disability for Merritt and Rose allows us to focus research efforts on other aspects of their lives.

From Census Clues to Research Action

Thanks to the 1910 census, several research avenues have opened for the Talbot family history:

  • Deed Search: A search for the property deed in Mecklenburg County, VA, can reveal details about the farm’s size, purchase price, and previous ownership.
  • Marriage Record Search: Focusing on Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas around 1885 will hopefully locate Merritt and Rose’s marriage record. With the family residing near the NC/VA border, expanding the search to neighboring North Carolina counties might be necessary.
  • Lost Children Investigation: Earlier census records and local cemetery records can be valuable resources in finding information about the two children who weren’t living with the family in 1910.
  • Military Service Verification: Since Merritt’s age suggests he wouldn’t have participated in the Civil War, further research can focus on other aspects of his life.

This is just a glimpse into the wealth of information hidden within the 1910 census. By learning to search census records effectively and analyze the information they contain, you can unlock fascinating stories about your ancestors, bringing their lives and experiences into sharper focus.

Remember: The process of analyzing census records is similar for all federal censuses. The details and information collected may vary slightly from year to year, but the core principles of interpretation remain constant.

How to Access the 1910 US Census Records

Now that you’re eager to explore the census for 1910 and discover the stories it holds about your ancestors, the question arises: where can you access these records? Luckily, there are several options available:

  • This popular genealogy subscription website provides access to a vast collection of historical records, including the 1910 census
  • Another valuable resource for genealogy research, FamilySearch offers a free user account option. With a free account, you can access a searchable index of the 1910 census and potentially locate your ancestors’ records.
  • MyHeritage: This subscription-based genealogy website offers a growing collection of US and world wide historical records, including access to the 1910 census.
  • FindMyPast: Another subscription genealogy website, FindMyPast provides access to historical records from various countries, including the 1910 U.S. census.

Expand Your Genealogy Research With These Posts

By delving deeper into census records and using them alongside other resources, you can embark on a captivating journey of uncovering your family’s history.

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