If any ancestors on your family tree lived any part of their life in the United States (including territories) in the month of June 1880, you need to make sure you have completely examined all the questions asked on that census. It is a wealth of information. The US President in 1880 was Rutherford Hayes. Especially since the next census done in 1890 was eventually destroyed in a fire in the early 20th century and the next census available is not until 1900.
Using the free FamilySearch.com site for the 1880 census is the place to start. Do so even if you have looked at it before. Of course, if none of your relatives were in America by 1880, it won’t help. Yet, don’t overlook the future spouses of your ancestors, they may have been in America already.
The FamilySearch.org site has over 1,080,000 images from the 1880 census. The information available includes: full name for each person in a household (which includes non-related persons such as servants or laborers); the town and county where they lived; some have a house or street address; the gender, race and age of each person was written; if a child was born between January and June 1, 1880 -then their birth month would be listed (a great asset); the age as of June 1, 1880 for each person would be written. Also, the place of birth for each person along with where each person’s parents were born. That is very important to figuring where the family originated from.
Each person’s martial status (which includes if they married between January and June 1, 1880); and how they are related or not related (worker) to the head of the household. With martial status, be careful, many an individual stated they were single or widowed but really they were divorced or their spouse had left them.
An important bit of information was if each person could read and write (in English), something many people in 1880 did not know how to do. It also asked if the person (a youngster) attended school within the last year. Then the occupation or job for each person. You would be amazed how many youngsters worked – ages 14 to 18.
So important to look for was if they stated they were ill, disabled or listed as deaf, blind, insane, bedridden, or crippled. That is a great piece of information. Check carefully, this section towards the right side is overlooked.
Some key things to be aware of was that people may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life. That includes any alias or nicknames. Even the census takers misspelled a person’s name many times. Have several family ancestors who may have lived together to search. If you try only one and that was misspelled, it is harder. So try other names such as children or siblings or aunts and uncles. Having a couple generations in one household was common.
Another place for errors is in the indexes and transcripts done of the hand-written 1880 census. Look at the actual scanned copy of the census is the best. The transcription can have errors, so check the original, which can also be downloaded to your computer or printed. Go to the tab “information” for the sources of the census.
Overall, the 1880 census has a good deal of information, and well worth reviewing completely.
Photos: 1880s family portrait; 1880 home and family in Michigan; 1880 census (transcript and original) for Charles Bixler in MD.
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