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Census Data Description
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The Historic Pittsburgh Census Project offers access to data from U.S. Census schedules for the city of Pittsburgh (1850-1880) and for Allegheny City (1850-1870).

Census schedules contain information about specific individuals. This data is used to create many of the statistical reports of the U.S. Census. The information included in the schedules varies from year to year. Below are summaries of what is found in each year.

Summary of Data Found in the U.S. Census Schedules for 1850-1880

(An "X" in the field indicates that the data field exists for a given year.)

Data Field 1850 1860 1870 1880
First Name X X X X
Alternate First Name X X X  
Last Name X X X X
Alternate Last Name X X X  
Relation to Head of Household       X
Age X X X X
Month Born (if born in last year)     X  
Sex X X X X
Marital Status       X
Married in Last Year? X X    
Month Married (if married in last year)     X  
Color X X X X
Occupation X X X X
Skill Level X X X X
Ward Number X X X X
Months Unemployed       X
Place of Birth X X X X
Place of Birth of Father       X
Place of Birth of Mother       X
Father Foreign Born?     X  
Mother Foreign Born?     X  
Attended School in Last Year? X X X  
Literate? X X    
Can't Read?     X  
Can't Write?     X  
Dwelling Type X X X  
Street       X
House Address       X
Value of Estate X      
Value of Personal Estate   X X  
Value of Real Estate   X X  
Can Vote?     X  
Can't Vote?     X  
Sane? X X X  
Soundex Code X X X  
Alternate Soundex Code X X X  
Additional Notes X X X  

Additional Census Information

The 1850 Census was to start on June 1, 1850 and take five months. For this census, "enumerators (census takers) were instructed to read information back to the person interviewed so that errors could be corrected" (Hinkley, Kathleen. Your Guide to the Federal Census. Betheny Books, 2002, p. 37).

The 1860 Census was to start on June 1, 1860 and take five months. For the first time the census asked for the causes of insanity (e.g., intemperance, grief, misfortune, weight and disappointment).

When recording literacy for the years 1850 and 1860, the enumerator recorded anyone over the age of 20 who could read and write. The 1860 census includes "value of personal estate." However, "it is doubtful that individuals were likely to disclose true figures for fear of being taxed accordingly" (Szucs, Loretto Dennis. Wright, Mathew. Finding Answers in the U.S. Census Records. My Family.Com. Inc., 2001, p. 35).

The 1870 Census was to start on June 1, 1870 and take five months. This census asked two new distinct questions: "Cannot read?" and "Cannot write"? A "no" in either of those categories means YES they could read and/or write. The 1880 Census was to start on June 1, 1880, but was only to take one month. For the first time people are listed as "White, Black, Mulatto, Indian or Chinese" plus street addresses are recorded.


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