If you ask most genealogists what their favorite U.S. census is, they would probably answer 1900. The 1900 census is indeed a good one, after all, it is the only one that gives us the month and 'exact' year of birth.
But if you ask me, the U.S. 1910 census is my favorite. Here are four reasons why. And, read to the end to learn how to search the U.S. censuses for free using FamilySearch.org.
1. Column 8 records "Marital Status." In the past, this column would be recorded with the following abbreviations:
a. M for marriedBut in 1910, the enumerator was given further instructions: Enumerators [will] enter "S" for single, "Wd" for widowed, "D" for divorced, "M1" for married person in their first marriage, and "M2" for married persons in their second or subsequent marriage.
b. S for single
c. D for divorced
d. Wd for widow
This is particularly helpful for those wondering or looking for a possible earlier spouse. Further, when paired with question #9, how many years married, you can determine when the first or subsequent marriage happened, and about when the prior spouse died (or left if there was a divorce.)
In this image above, we see James Winn has a "M2" in the marital column. That means he is in his second marriage. In the next column, the number 9 refers to the fact he and Lizzie have been married 9 years. If they had been married for nine years in 1910, they were married about 1901. This information also suggests daughter Florence and son Franklin are not the children of Lizzie because of their ages. (We confirm this in reason #2 below.)
It also suggests James' first wife may have died between the years of 1895 and 1901, which are the years between the birth of son Franklin and James' marriage to Lizzie. Putting all this together is very helpful and gives us some direction as to when and what records to look for next. Examples may be, a marriage record for James prior to the birth of Florence, a death record for James' first wife between 1895 and 1901, or a marriage record for James and Lizzie in about 1901.
2. Column 10 and 11 ask how many children have been born to a woman and how many are still living. In the case of James and Lizzie Winn, Lizzie has had 0 children and 0 are living which supports the fact that Florence and Franklin are not her children.
In contrast and shown in the case below, Margarett Cole has had 12 children and only 6 are living.
Finding my great-grandmother Margarett in this census told me I had my work cut out for me finding the names and dates of 6 deceased children. (Learn how I did that, here.)
3. There's a 'secret' Indian Schedule hiding in the back of the 1910 census. Yep, you read that right. There was a Indian Population Schedule in the year 1910. Complete with its own instructions, this census sheet can be found at the end of the microfilm of a given location if there were those who claimed Indian ancestry.
Not only will you find the name of each individual in the household, their relationship to the head-of-household, their age, marital status, and place of birth, but you will find additional columns indicating their Native American tribe affiliation and percentage of blood.
|Top half of Indian Population Schedule. Screenshot from Ancestry.com|
|Bottom half of Indian Population Schedule. Screenshot from Ancestry.com|
This above record was found at the back of the Rose Hill, Lee County, Virginia 1910 census.
[Disclaimer: This one record does not prove Native American ancestry, but can be an indication to look into it further. For more in-depth information on searching for your Native American ancestry, see the article here.]
4. The 1910 census was the second census to ask immigration questions. Beginning in 1900 and continuing through until 1930, the U.S. federal censuses asked citizenship questions. In 1910, the following questions were asked:
Column 15: Year of immigration to the U.S.
Column 16: Whether naturalized or Alien
Column 17: Whether able to speak English; or, if not, language spoken
In this example below, you can see the Nemet (aka Nimeth) family.
Notice, Joseph arrived in the U.S. in 1901 and is listed as an Alien. Rosa (his wife) arrived in 1903 and has no naturalization status listed. This is because prior to 1922, a wife would not "need" to be naturalized. She would acquire 'derivative citizenship' when her husband became naturalized.
These citizenship questions will help you more easily find the passenger lists and naturalization records for those that wished to apply. For more information on how to find and use the great information contained in naturalization records, read here.
U.S. censuses are jam packed with genealogical goodies. Take another look at your targeted ancestor with these insights and see if a new clue pops up!
Searching the Censuses for Free on FamilySearch.org
For those of you not familiar with FamilySearch.org, you can see the digital images of the U.S. censuses online there for free. To easily access a specific census, go to www.familysearch.org and create a free account or sign-in.
Now, click "Search" and choose "Records" from the pull-down menu.
You will land on the main search page. Scroll down and in the search field to the right labeled "Collection title," type in United States Census. A list of all the censuses will be provided in the pull-down options for you to choose from.
Choose the census you wish to look at by clicking. You will then be able to run a search by name and place.
Did you hear about the secret hiding in the 1840 U.S. census? It's a brick wall buster for sure and particularly helpful for those searching for their Revolutionary War ancestors. Read about it, here.
 "United States Naturalization Laws," article online, FamilySearch Wiki (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Naturalization_Laws : accessed 1 Mar 2017); citing item titled "Act of February 10, 1855" and "Act of September 22, 1922 (Cable Act)".