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1880 Census Terms - Delinquent, Defective and Dependent

>1880-Lancaster Co, PA -IdiotsIt appears on the 1880 US Federal Census, many individuals were classified – given a ‘label’ to fit their behavior or circumstances. If a person was in local jail, he would be labeled ‘delinquent’. It was taken a step further in 1880 with the Special Schedule of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes (sometimes called the DDD Schedule) also collected.

1880-prisoners in Fall River,MASSIn the special schedule of the population there were seven categories for specific individuals. Those were: blind, paupers / indigent, idiots, insane, homeless children in orphanages, deaf-mutes, and inhabitants in prison. Today, such labels would be unthinkable, but they were very acceptable in the 1880s. The purpose for collection this information in 1880 was to provide statistics to aid the government in budgeting for construction and maintenance of institutions and prisons, as well as providing financial aid for the disabled.

People on the regular 1880 federal census were listed but those who fell into any of these categories were also on the special schedule June 1880 census. To check on any of your ancestors, first re-examine the regular 1880 census, especially columns #15-20. If there is an institution’s name listed on the side or at the top and your ancestor is listed there and not as a doctor, warden, guard, then they would be on the special schedules. 1880 -st joseph's orphanage st paul

Look also at the ‘health’ column and if there is a check for being blind, deaf and dumb, bedridden, sickly, crippled, idiot, or insane, then they would also be on the special schedule. These 1880 special schedules, depending on the state where the census was done,m are now housed in different locations. Some are with the National Archives, others with individual state archives.

Those that have been microfilmed at the National Archives can be viewed (21 states) using the fee-based Some are also available for viewing on the site or the local Family History Centers. Others are available through individual state archives – it will take some checking to locate them. For State Archives & Libraries: Find the address, phone, and website of state archives and libraries at the Wiki Index.

Of course be prepared, there may be some unsettling information you learn on an ancestor. However, keep in mind, medical was very primitive and not much was known. If a person did not conform to society, they might have been labeled an idiot. On the schedules, all that were so labeled in a certain county would be listed on the approximate sheet. Some interesting additional information on the person will also be marked, such if they had the condition since birth.  1880-WV insane

Photos: Idiots of Lancaster Co., PA in 1880; Prisoners in Fall River, Mass in 1880, St Joseph Orphanage in St. Paul , Minn and West Virginia Hospital for the Insane in 1880.

Related genealogical blogs:

Finding an Ancestor in the Census

Asylum and Insane Hospitals

Forgotten Ancestors


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