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2021

Census records often provide valuable hints to an individual’s immigration and naturalization dates or status. This blog post will outline those clues.

 

Country of Birth

 

Each person’s state or country of birth is reported in the 1850 through 1950 censuses.  A foreign birthplace obviously indicates the person immigrated to the United States sometime between birth and the date of the census.  It is extremely important that the researcher locate the person of interest in all censuses during which the person lived in the United States for several reasons:

 

  • The person’s age (implied year of birth) may vary significantly from census to census and should be further verified by other records such as death records, gravestones, newspaper obituaries, and so forth.
  • The “country of birth” may be reported differently in different census years, such as “Germany” in one census and “Prussia” in another, or “France” in one census and the province of “Alsace-Lorraine” in a different one.
  • The “country of birth” may be reported under the national boundaries that existed during that census year or, possibly, as they existed at the time the person was born or lived there, depending on the instructions given to the enumerator and/or the responding person’s knowledge.  For example, see the instructions on country of birth given to 1950 census enumerators in 1950 Census:  Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule Questions for All Persons.
  • The “country of birth” may be inaccurate if reported by another family member who was not well informed.
  • “Born at sea” is sometimes indicated.  If true, it’s a great clue to a specific and narrow time-frame of arrival in the United States.  Like other census information, however, it may not be accurate. One researcher found an ancestor in the 1880 census who was said to be “born at sea” of Scottish-born parents. However, all other census records for this man indicated he was born in New York State.  The researcher also determined that the man had an older brother for whom all records indicated birth in New York State.  The researcher eventually concluded the “born at sea” statement may have been part of a tall tale the man told to his new wife and in-laws.

 

Date of Immigration to the United States

 

Locating an immigrant’s record of arrival on a ship passenger list (1820-1950s) or Canadian (1895-1950s) or Mexican (1903-1950s) border crossing arrival record requires knowing the (1) immigrant’s name at the time of his or her arrival, (2) approximate year of birth, and (3) approximate date of immigration.  The more accurate information the researcher has, the more likely the researcher will find the correct person.  Many people had the same first names and surnames.

 

Year of immigration to the United States is indicated in the 1900 census (column 16), 1910 census (column 15), 1920 census (column 13), and 1930 census (column 22). This is a great clue, but again, the answer to this question may vary from census to census, depending on whether the year was remembered accurately or not, and depending on the knowledge, or lack thereof, of the person who provided the information.

 

Decade or approximate year of immigration to the United States can be implied by information such as the person’s first appearance in a U.S. census or publications such as city directories.

 

If a couple’s older children were reported as born in a foreign country and their younger children were reported as born in the United States, census records implicitly suggest an approximate year of immigration to the U.S.  The year(s) between the last foreign-born child’s birth and the first U.S.-born child’s birth are likely to be the time span during which the couple and their older children immigrated to the United States.  However, the whole family unit may not have immigrated together.  For example, the husband may have immigrated first, with the wife and children following later.

 

Date of Naturalization and Naturalization Status

 

Naturalization is the voluntary legal process by which a foreign-born person becomes a citizen of the United States.

 

From 1790 through most of the 20th century, naturalization was a two-step process for most adult men. After residing in the United States for two years, an alien could file a “declaration of intention” (“first papers”) to become a citizen. After three additional years, the alien could “petition for naturalization” (“second papers”). After the petition was granted, a certificate of citizenship was issued to the new citizen. These two steps did not have to take place in the same court or even in the same state.  More information is provided on our “Naturalization Records” webpage.

 

From 1790 until September 22, 1922, a woman’s citizenship status was determined by the citizenship status of her father or husband.  Before September 22, 1922, a foreign-born woman became a U.S. citizen when she married a U.S. citizen or when her foreign-born husband became naturalized.  She could also lose her U.S. citizenship by marrying an alien.  For more information, see “Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940” Part I and Part II.

 

Information on the person’s naturalization status in census records can help the researcher focus on a time span and courts near the person’s residence for potential naturalization records. Several censuses indicate or imply a date of naturalization and naturalization status:

 

  • The 1820 and 1830 censuses report the name of the head of household and the number of “foreigners not naturalized” in the household.  Although the specific person or persons in the household who were foreigners is not indicated, this clue should alert the researcher to (1) search for known household members in immigration records, (2) be alert to clues in other records that point to the suspected immigrant's possible foreign origins, and (3) search for possible later naturalization records for the suspected immigrant. Unfortunately, however, there are relatively few ship passenger lists (immigration records) before January 1, 1820, when the Federal Government began requiring such lists to be presented to collectors of customs.
  • The 1870 census (column 19) indicates with a check mark “Male Citizens of the U.S. of 21 years of age and upwards.” If the man was a foreign-born citizen, this means that he had become naturalized by 1870.
  • The 1900 census (column 18) indicates the person's naturalization status.  The answers are “Al” for alien, “Pa” for “first papers,” and “Na” for naturalized (“second papers”).
  • The 1910 census (column 16) indicates the person's naturalization status.  The answers are “Al” for alien, “Pa” for “first papers,” and “Na” for naturalized (“second papers”).
  • The 1920 census (column 14) indicates the person's naturalization status.  The answers are “Al” for alien, “Pa” for “first papers,” and “Na” for naturalized (“second papers”).
  • The 1930 census (column 23) indicates the person's naturalization status.  The answers are “Al” for alien, “Pa” for “first papers,” and “Na” for naturalized (“second papers”).
  • The 1940 census (column 16) indicates the person's naturalization status.  The answers are “Al” for alien, “Pa” for “first papers,” and “Na” for naturalized (“second papers”).
  • The 1950 census (to be released for public use on April 1, 2022) (column 14) indicates “Yes” (naturalized) for persons who had taken out their “second papers” or were naturalized through either parent when the person was a minor.

 

In addition to indicating naturalization status at the time the census was taken, these clues suggest when the person’s naturalization status changed.  For example, if an ancestor is listed as an alien (“Al”) in the 1920 census and is then listed as “Pa” or “Na” in subsequent censuses, the researcher will know to look for naturalization records for that person after 1920.

 

Special note:  Persons born abroad or at sea of American parents are listed in the citizenship column with the codes “Am Cit” in the 1940 census, and “AP” in the 1950 census.

 

Solid genealogical research requires using information found in one record as hints to help locate other records about the same person or family unit.  Census records provide valuable clues that assist the researcher in locating immigration and naturalization records.

This is our seventh detailed look at the Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, that was used in most of the United States.  This post will focus on questions 29 to 33 that were asked of persons on “sample” lines who were 14 years of age and over.

 

Employment Questions

 

Item 29.  If “Yes” in item 17:  How many weeks has he been looking for work?  The enumerator was to enter a whole number. Half a week or more counted as a whole week.  Less than half a week was zero.  If the person responded with the number of months, the enumerator was to multiply the number of months by 4 1/3.  Thus, if the person said they had been looking for work for two months, then 2 x 4 1/3 = 8 2/3, which rounds up to 9 weeks.

 

The time period in item 29 referred to the number of “continuous weeks up to the Saturday preceding the day” on which the person was enumerated. Thus, the enumerator was instructed, “If you are enumerating on Wednesday, April 5, and the person started looking for work Wednesday, March 22, count him as looking for work 2 weeks.  (From Wednesday, March 22 to Saturday, April 1, is 1 week and 4 days, which is counted as 2 weeks.)”

 

Item 30.  Last year (1949), in how many weeks did this person do any work (excluding work around the home)?  The enumerator was to “Count as a whole week, a week in which any work was done” from January to December 1949.  For the most extreme example, if a person worked only every Saturday for a whole year, the answer was still “52.”  Weeks worked included weeks of active service in the Armed Forces, paid vacation, sick leave, or other paid absences.  An example of a “paid absence” was a school teacher who worked 40 weeks, but was paid for a full year (52 weeks).  If a person reported time worked in number of months, the enumerator was to multiply the number of months by 4 1/3 as discussed above.

 

Income Questions

 

 

Item 31a.  Last year (1949), how much money (before taxes or other deductions) did he earn working as an employee for wages or salary?  The enumerator was to record the amount to the nearest whole dollar (no cents) and to write “10,000+” for anyone who reported an amount more than $10,000.  The enumerator was to accept the respondent’s best estimate if he (or she) did not know the exact amount.  Wages or salary included tips, piece-rate payments, sales commissions, nonmilitary cash bonuses, profit-sharing amounts, and Armed Forces or National Guard pay.  (Average family income in 1950 was $3,300.)

 

The enumerator was cautioned that “take-home pay” was not total pay; “it may be necessary to itemize the deductions in order to get an estimate of the total before deductions.” The respondent could exclude “in kind” pay (food or lodging), and travel reimbursements. Armed Forces pay included base pay, rental and subsistence allowances, longevity pay, flight pay, and so forth, but “standard dependence allotments ($22 or $27 per month) should be deducted.”

 

Item 31b.  Last year (1949), how much money (net income) did he earn working in his own business, professional practice, or farm?  Just as with Item 31a, the enumerator was to accept the respondent’s best estimate if he (or she) did not know the exact amount. Net income was the amount left over after business expenses (cost of goods purchased, rent, utilities, depreciation, wages and salaries, interest, business taxes) were subtracted from business income (revenue from fees, royalties, partnership income, sales of merchandise or services).  Capital expenditures (purchase or permanent improvements of real estate, buildings, or machinery) did not count as business expenses.  Possible responses were:

 

  • An amount to the nearest whole dollar (no cents)
  • “10,000+” for any amount more than $10,000
  • “Even” if business revenues just balanced expenses
  • “Loss” if revenues were less than expenses

 

Item 31c.  Last year, how much money did he receive from interest, dividends, veteran’s allowances, pensions, rents, or other income (excluding salary or wages)?   Just as with Item 31a, the enumerator was to accept the respondent’s best estimate if he (or she) did not know the exact amount.

 

Examples of “other income” include alimony, annuity payments, contributions from others (such as children giving money to support elderly parents), Armed Forces dependency allotments, interest, dividends, periodic payments from estates and trusts, fiduciary income, gambling gains, periodic payments from an inheritance or insurance policy, military bonuses, mustering out pay, pensions, relief (welfare) payments, rental income, payments from roomers and boarders, Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation, veterans benefits, and workmen’s compensation.

 

“Other income” did not include occasional cash gifts; receipt of repayments of principal of a loan or savings bond; an allowance of money given by one member of a family to another in the same household; borrowed money (loans); capital gains (and losses) by someone who was not in the business of selling stocks, bonds, real estate, or cars; lump sum payments from insurance policies, inheritances, and so forth; “in kind” pay (food, lodging, and so forth); refunds of money for merchandise purchased but returned; and withdrawal of savings from the bank.

 

Item 32a.  Last year (1949), how much money did his relatives in this household earn working for wages or salary (before taxes and other deductions)?  This question sought a total dollar amount for “all relatives of the family head now living in the same household, including the wife, children (even if under 14 years of age), parents, or other persons in the household related to the head by blood, marriage, or adoption.”  The amount reported in Item 31a by the person on the sample line was not to be repeated on this line, otherwise the same directions and guidance given for Item 31a applied to Item 32a.

 

Item 32b.  Last year (1949), how much money did his relatives in this household earn in their own business, professional practice, or farm (net income)?  This question sought a total dollar amount for “all relatives of the family head now living in the same household, including the wife, children (even if under 14 years of age), parents, or other persons in the household related to the head by blood, marriage, or adoption.”  The amount reported in Item 31b by the person on the sample line was not to be repeated on this line, otherwise the same directions and guidance given for Item 31b applied to Item 32b.

 

Item 32c.  Last year, how much money did his relatives in this household receive from interest, dividends, veteran’s allowances, pensions, rents, or other income (excluding salary or wages)?  This question sought a total dollar amount for “all relatives of the family head now living in the same household, including the wife, children (even if under 14 years of age), parents, or other persons in the household related to the head by blood, marriage, or adoption.”  The amount reported in Item 31c by the person on the sample line was not to be repeated on this line, otherwise the same directions and guidance given for Item 31c applied to Item 32c.

 

In seeking answers to Items 31a, 31b, 31c, 32a, 32b, and 32c, the enumerator was instructed that he or she “should not ask the respondent to refer to income tax forms, but if he [or she] does so voluntarily, make use of the information.”

 

Procedures for the Enumerator to Follow if the Respondent Objected to Sharing Financial Information

 

If the respondent objected to sharing financial information, the enumerator had several “talking points” to try to overcome the objections:

 

  • Fear of disclosure to others:  The enumerator was to explain that the enumerator and all Census employees were sworn to keep the answers confidential with heavy penalties of imprisonment and fine for improper disclosure. The FBI could not look at Census records.  The Census Bureau published only statistical summaries.

 

  • Why couldn't the Bureau get this information from Federal tax returns?  The enumerator was to explain that tax returns were confidential and the Census Bureau could not get them from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.  Federal tax returns weren’t useful for statistical purposes, either, because they did “not cover all people or all kinds of income” or could they be correlated to “age, education, and other items needed to understand the differences in income.”

 

  • Why was the income data needed?  The enumerator was to explain that the income questions were strongly requested by business, research, labor groups, and public agencies, and were given these examples:

 

    • Business wanted to find out where to locate new sales outlets and plants; whether people could afford to buy low, medium, or high-priced goods; and what kinds of homes should be built.
    • Government agencies wanted to determine needed programs for housing, social security, unemployment compensation, and community services.

 

  • Are the income questions legal?  The enumerator was to explain that the census was authorized by the Constitution and laws enacted by Congress.  Financial questions had been in population censuses as far back as 1850.

 

If the respondent still objected, the enumerator was to hand the person a “Form P6, Confidential Report on Income, 1949,” that the respondent could fill out, seal, and mail directly to the Census Bureau in Washington, DC.  No signature or postage were required. 

 

  • The enumerator was to write on the form the State, Enumeration District number, sheet number, and line number of the person for whom the income answers were required.  This information would enable the Bureau to later annotate the Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, with the information provided on the P6, Confidential Report on Income.
  • If two or more household members age 14 years and over fell on sample lines, then separate forms were to be left for each of them.
  • The enumerator was to write “Income form left” on Item 31a.
  • If the respondent filled out the form and gave it back to the enumerator, the enumerator was to mail it immediately.

 

P6 - Version 1 - Required an EnvelopeP6 - Version 2 - Self-Mailer

 

Above: Two Versions of Form P6, Confidential Report on Income, 1949, from Binder 71-F, Form P6, Confidential Report on Income (National Archives Identifier 206240480).

 

Men’s Military Service

 

Item 33.  If male, did he ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during (33a) World War I, (33b) World War II, or (33c) any other time including present service? (Yes/No).  Sadly, this question only applied to males, even though many women served during World War II in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), Women’s Army Corps (WAC), and United States Naval Reserve (Women’s Reserve) that is better known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).

 

Service in the U.S. Armed Forces was defined as active duty for any amount of time in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or any reserve branch of those organizations, whether or not they went overseas or saw combat.  The instructions to enumerators took pains to note that service in the Armed Forces included were men who were inducted and then discharged after a few days or weeks, and those stationed at desk jobs.

 

Military service did not include persons in the Merchant Marine, civilian employees of  defense agencies, or National Guard service before or after World War II.

 

World War I was defined as April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918 (in Europe) or to April 1, 1920 (in Russia).  The Bureau's choice of November 11, 1918 (Armistice Day) for the termination date in Western Europe is interesting since and U.S. formal involvement in the conflict did not officially terminate until July 2, 1921, when President Warren G. Harding signed the Knox-Porter Resolution, and some American troops remained overseas until January 1923.

 

World War II was defined as September 16, 1940, to July 25, 1947.

 

“Any other time including present service” was intended to capture any military service other than the World War I and World War II service defined above.

 

Adapted from Form P1, 1950 Census of Population and Housing, and Urban and Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual, 1950 Census of the United States, pages 52-59 and 65-66.

NARA expects to digitally release the 1950 population census schedules for researcher use on April 1, 2022, which is 72 years after the official 1950 census day.  This is the 17th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.

 

This is our sixth detailed look at the Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, that was used in most of the United States.  Each Form P1 had space for 30 individuals to be enumerated.  Of those 30, every 5th person was asked additional questions in order to obtain a statistical sample of information on nativity, migration, education, unemployment, income, military service, previous job, and marital status.  No answers would be entered if the enumerator recorded terms like “vacant,” “occupied by nonresidents,” or “no one at home” for the particular sample line.  This post will focus on questions 21 to 28 that were asked of all persons on “sample” lines.

 

In order to further randomize the sample, the Census Bureau built a “deck” of five versions of the form so that the same lines weren’t sampled over and over again.  For example, line 1 was likely to contain a male head of household (at least on the first page of every Enumeration District), so if every form sampled line 1, the statistics would unduly weight answers by male heads of households. Thus, the five versions of the Form P1 sampled these lines:

 

  • Version 1:  Lines 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26
  • Version 2:  Lines 2, 7, 12, 17, 22, 27
  • Version 3:  Lines 3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28
  • Version 4:  Lines 4, 9, 14, 19, 24, 29
  • Version 5:  Lines 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30

 

In addition, the person on the last sample line (26, 27, 28, 29, or 30) was asked several additional sample questions!

 

Item 21, Was he [or she] living in this same house a year ago?  (Yes/No).  “One year ago” referred to one year prior to the date of enumeration, not April 1, 1949, and “same house” referred to the person’s “usual place of residence” not a temporary location like a hotel during a vacation. If the person on the sample line was a child under the age of one, the enumerator was to write “under 1 year” in Item 24a and leave items 21, 22, 23, and 24b blank.

  • Yes” was the correct answer if the person had lived in the same house, the same apartment building (even if in a different unit), or same trailer camp or parking lot (even if in a different parking space).
  • “No” was the correct answer if the person had lived in a different house, a different apartment building, or whose same trailer had been in a different trailer camp or parking lot or had a different postal mailing address.

 

Item 22. Was he [or she] living on a farm a year ago?  (Yes/No).  The person need not have been an agricultural worker to have lived on a farm.

 

Item 23, Was he [she] living in this same county a year ago?  (Yes/No). The enumerator was to mark this item only if Item 21 was “No.”

 

Item 24, If “No” in Item 23:  What county (24a) and state or foreign country (24b) was he [or she] living in a year ago?  The enumerator was to enter information only if Item 23 was “No.”

  • Louisiana parishes, the five New York city boroughs, and independent cities (such as in Virginia) were to be entered as county equivalents, indicating city when appropriate.  “New York City” was not to be entered unless that was the only information available.
  • If the county was unknown, the State plus the full name of the specific place of residence or nearest place were to be reported.
  • If the person had lived in a foreign country, it was to be reported according to current (1950) national boundaries.  If that was not known, then it was acceptable to record the former (1949) name of the country, or the name of the province, city, town, or other locality in which the person had resided.
  • Persons who had resided on a U.S. domestic military installation were to report its county and state, but if that was not known, then it was acceptable to indicate the name of the military installation.
  • Persons who had resided on a U.S. military installation abroad were to report the name of the foreign country.
  • “At sea” was to be recorded for persons who had been at sea and had no usual place of residence. If the person had been aboard a ship docked in port and had no usual place of residence, the location of the port was to be indicated.

 

 

Item 25, What country were his [or her] father and mother born in?

  • “U.S.” for persons born in the continental United States.
  • The name of the foreign country or U.S. territory or possession according to 1950 international boundaries for foreign-born persons, following the same guidance as given for Item 13 (birthplace of the person being enumerated).

 

Item 26, What is the highest grade of school that he [or she] has attended?  Grade codes are indicated at the bottom of each Form P1.  They are:

  • “0” (zero) - nursery school or “none”
  • “K” -  Kindergarten
  • S1 to S12 for 1st to 12th grades
  • C1 to C4 for 1st to 4th years of college or professional school immediately after high school
  • C5 - One or more year of graduate or professional school after the 4th year of college

 

Of course, there were additional instructions:

  • The highest grade attended was to be entered regardless of “skipped” or “repeated” grades.
  • Years in “regular” schools counted (public, private, or parochial schools, colleges, universities, and professional schools).
  • Years in “on-the-job training” or “nonregular” schools did not count (vocational, trade, correspondence, or business schools outside the “regular” system).
  • The approximate equivalent grade in the American school system was to be reported for education in foreign or ungraded schools.

 


Item 27, Did he [or she] finish this grade?  “
Yes” was the answer if the person fully completed the grade, otherwise “No” if the person failed to pass the last grade attended or dropped out before completion.

 

Item 28, Has he [or she] attended school at any time since February 1st?  (Yes, No, or age 30 or over).  The Census Bureau decided in advance that it was unnecessary to ask people age 30 or above if they had attended school since February 1, 1950.

 

Adapted from Form P1, 1950 Census of Population and Housing, and Urban and Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual, 1950 Census of the United States, pages 46-52.

NARA expects to digitally release the 1950 population census schedules for researcher use on April 1, 2022, which is 72 years after the official 1950 census day.  This is the 16th in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.

 

This is our fifth detailed look at the Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule, that was used in most of the United States.  This post will focus on the final questions for all persons 14 years of age and over:  Items 20a, 20b, and 20c.

 

Item 20 was a three-part question that obtained information on (a) occupation, (b) industry, and (c) class of worker.  All three parts were to be answered for all persons for whom “Wk” was recorded in Item 15 or “Yes” in Items 16, 17, or 18.  All three parts needed to be answered in a consistent logical answer, as will be more fully discussed below.  For example, “Barber, Retail Jewelry Store, P” is illogical because one would not expect to find a barber employed at a jewelry store.  Instead, correct answers might be “Barber, Barber Shop, P” or “Jewelry Salesman, Jewelry Store, P.”

 

 

Item 20a, What kind of work was he [or she] doing?  The person’s job title was usually the best short description of his or her work, such as auto mechanic, math teacher, or registered nurse.  If the enumerator was given a lengthy explanation like “My husband runs a machine that takes dough and cuts it up before it is put into the oven” it could be simplified to “dough cutting machine operator.”  The enumerator might be confronted with a description for which it was hard to think up a simple title.  If the respondent said, “My husband nails heels on shoes” it was satisfactory for the enumerator to write “nails heels on shoes” on the census schedule.

 

The enumerator was given many additional instructions:

 

  • If the person worked at two or more jobs, the enumerator was instructed to describe the job at which person worked the greatest number of hours last week.
  • If the person was looking for work (“Yes” in Item 17), then he or she was to describe their last job or business.
  • If the person never had a job or business, such as a young person looking for a first job, then “never worked” was to be recorded in Item 20a and dashes entered in Items 20b and 20c.
  • If the person was waiting to start a new job, the new job was to be described rather than the previous job.
  • Members of the Armed Forces were to be reported as “Armed Forces” in 20a with dashes entered in Items 20b and 20c. “Armed Forces” included persons on active duty with the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.  The Armed Forces did not include members of the merchant marine or civilian employees of the Departments of Defense, Army, Air Force, or Navy.
  • “Strange or funny” occupational titles were to be accepted if the respondent was sure the title was correct.  Examples included “sand hog” for certain workers engaged in construction of underwater tunnels or “printer’s devil” for apprentice printers.
  • Young persons who claimed professional, technical, or skilled occupational titles were to be questioned further to determine if the correct designation was really trainee, apprentice, or helper, such as accountant trainee, apprentice electrician, or electrician’s helper.
  • Vague words were to be avoided.  Instead of “adjuster” more specific descriptions like claims adjuster, brake adjuster, machine adjuster, complaint adjuster, or insurance adjuster were to be recorded.  Instead of “tester” the particular type of tester was to be noted, such as cement tester, instrument tester, engine tester, battery tester, and so forth.

 

 

Item 20b, What kind of business or industry was he [or she] working in? The answer was to clearly and specifically identify the kind of business or industry in which the person was employed, taking pains to distinguish between manufacturing, wholesale, or retail establishments, such as shoe factory, wholesale shoe company, retail shoe store, shoe repair shop, and so forth. What’s the difference between manufacturing, wholesaling, and retailing? An establishment that produced products was the be reported as a factory.  A wholesale establishment sold primarily to retailers, industrial users, and even other wholesalers. Retail establishments sold products primarily to individual customers.  Additional guidance included:

  • Company names were not to be entered.
  • Governmental employers were to be indicated as Federal, State, city, county, and so forth.  The function of the agency was to be indicated, such as state hospital or city grammar school.  If an agency’s function was “purely governmental” then it was acceptable to indicate the agency’s name, such as U.S. Bureau of Internal Revenue or City License Board.
  • If a business carried on multiple activities in the same place, the major activity of the establishment was to be recorded.  Thus, a salesman who worked in a shoe factory’s on-site retail shop was to be reported as employed at a shoe factory.  If the company’s activities were carried on in multiple locations, the business in which the person actually worked was to be reported.  Thus, a miner working in a coal mine owned by a large steel company was to be reported as working at a coal mine not a steel manufacturer.
  • Home-based business were to be reported just as if they were carried on in regular stores or shops.
  • Vague words were to be avoided. For example, instead of “agency” the enumerator was to specify collection agency, advertising agency, real estate agency, employment agency, travel agency, and so forth.  Instead of “lumber company” the enumerator was to specify logging camp, saw mill, planing mill, wholesale lumber company, retail lumber yard, and so forth.

 

 

Item 20c, Class of Worker, indicated broad employment categories, with “P” for private employers; “G” for government employers; “O” for those who owned their own businesses; and “NP” for those who worked without pay on a family farm or business.  There are a few special items to note:

 

  • The work for private employer (“P”) code was to be recorded for:
    • Employees of nonprofit establishments such as churches, settlement houses, and unions.
    • Domestic workers in other persons’ homes (“Maid, Private Family, P”).
    • Farm workers or others who received pay in-kind such as room and board, except as noted below under “NP.
    • Persons who worked at odd jobs or on a casual basis.

 

  • The work for government employer (“G”) code was to be recorded for:
    • Employees of all federal, state, county, city, village, and other units of government, including public schools, and government-owned bus lines, government-owned electric power companies, and the like.
    • Employees of international governmental organizations like the United Nations.
    • Employees of foreign government embassies or consulates.

 

  • The work in one’s own business (“O”) code was:
    • For persons who worked for profit or fees in their own business, farm, shop, office, and so forth.
    • For persons who were partners in a business.
    • For farmers, sharecroppers, and tenant farmers.
    • Not for corporate employees who owned shares in the business for which they worked for wages or a salary.

 

  • The work without pay (“NP”) code was to be recorded for unpaid family members who worked on a family farm or in a family business even if they received room, board, and a cash allowance.  Only family members who received “money which is definitely considered to be wages for work performed” were to be recorded as “P” instead of “NP.”

 

  • Clergymen were usually reported as “P.”  However, clergy who were not attached to one particular church or congregation but conducted religious services in various places on a fee basis were to be reported as “O” while those who worked as a prison chaplain or some other civilian government job were to be reported as “G.”

 

The Census Bureau's great attention to the "work" question surely indicates this three-part question would cause the enumerators a lot of work, too! 

 

Adapted from Form P1, 1950 Census of Population and Housing, and Urban and Rural Enumerator's Reference Manual, 1950 Census of the United States, pages 39-46.