In the earlier censuses, it sometimes seems that all our ancestors were farmers, but there are other occupations listed: cobblers, tailors, milliners, blacksmiths, jewelers, watchmakers, and the list goes on. Enumerators may have even commented on someone's level of competence at a particular occupation! Although difficult to read, this clip from the 1880 census for the household of Azell Martindale of Moore County, North Carolina, shows Azell is a farmer, his wife Polly keeps house, and his 97-year-old mother Judah "Cooks & cooks well!":
The 1940 U.S. census will be released to the public on April 2, 2012. One controversial question enumerators asked that year: For the year ended December 31, 1939, Amount of money, wages or salary received (including commissions). The answers to this question will help genealogists determine how well, or poorly, their ancestors were doing financially at the end of the Great Depression. It will be interesting to see who earned more in 1939, Forest the showman or Ellison the chair varnisher!
In researching census records, it is important to look at the information in EVERY column. Doing so will give you the details that will bring your ancestor to life, so to speak!
On September 2, 2011, GeneaBloggers announced the Archives.com US Federal Census Contest with five one-year subscriptions to Archives.com as prizes. This post is being entered in that contest. Because I have a subscription already, if I am one of the lucky five winners, I will use it as a prize for a contest on this blog. Archives.com is one of several subscription websites that include online census databases and images as well as other collections of interest to genealogists.
© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research