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1920 Census Transcribing Help
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You will use a spreadsheet template to transcribe the 1920 Census. Excel or MSWorks spreadsheet templates are available for IBM compatible PCs, and Excel or Clarisworks/Appleworks are available for MAC users. Your Census Project State Coordinator will need to know what spreadsheet software and which version you have and whether you have an IBM-type PC or a MAC. Email your Census Project State Coordinator if you did not receive a spreadsheet template with your assignment notification.  Alternate email for templates: Transcriber@US-Census.org

You MUST use the correct census year template for the year you are transcribing because the columns vary for each census year. The template columns should match the columns on the census page from which you are transcribing.


How to Enter the Census Data into the 1920 Spreadsheet Template

1st PART OF YOUR SPREADSHEET TEMPLATE (Common Information Fill-in Block)
Enter the specific census information in the fill-in block.  The fill-in block will be either at the top of your spreadsheet, or on the far right of the columned census headers, or on a separate worksheet.

  • Census Year
  • Microfilm Reel # - The 1920 Microfilm Reel numbers all start with T625- followed by another number. Check the Assignment Web Pages to verify the film number of your transcription.
  • State
  • County or Parish
  • Township
  • Name of Institution
  • Incorporated City, Town
  • Ward of City
  • Supervisor's District #
  • Enumeration District #
  • Enumeration Date Range
  • Enumerator
  • Your name/email as the transcriber
  • Your proofreader's name/email
  • The source of your census material (CD, microfilm, etc.)

Printed at the top of the 1920 census page is:
Township or other Division of county _________, Name of Incorporated Place _________.

DIVISION/DISTRICT
The district name on the blank line after "Township or other Division" is the name you will enter. Enter the information as you see it. Not all censuses have a Division or District entered and some are unreadable.

When you complete the transcription of a Division/District, we recommend that you send it to your proofreader so it can be placed online as soon as possible.

If you haven't found a proofreader yet, please read the Proofreading Decisions, and then visit the Proofreaders Exchange and sign up now.

When your transcription has been proofread,
follow the Submission Instructions.

2nd PART OF YOUR SPREADSHEET TEMPLATE
The 2nd part will have columns and abbreviated column headings for each of the columns in the 1920 census, plus additional columns for the page number, line number, Enumeration District, Sheet Number, and a few more columns on the right.

ENUMERATION DATE
If your template does not have a separate column for Enum/Date, either insert a column for this purpose to the left of the REMARKS column or type the Enum-Date in the REMARKS column of the first name on the page that does not already have something in the Remarks column.

    Transcription Example:  Enum-Date: January 1, 1920

PAGE NUMBERS
Every other page will have a stamped page number on it, usually near the word "POPULATION"  at the top of the sheet.  For the stamped page type an A immediately after the number.  For the following unstamped page, use the same number as the previous stamped page except type a B immediately after the number.  

    Transcription Example:    First Page (example stamped - 438): 438A
    Second page (unstamped): 438B
SHEET NUMBERS
The "SHEET No." is the hand-written number that appears in the upper right-corner. On the A-pages there will be a pre-printed A after the line on which the Enumerator wrote the sheet number. On the B-pages there will be a pre-printed B after the line for the hand-written sheet number. Include the A or B in the Sheet No. column after the sheet number, and again no spaces - put the A or B immediately after the number. 
    Transcription Example:  SHEET # 1A

LINE NUMBER
Enter each line number as you enter each new person. The line numbers on the "A" pages are numbered 1 through 50, and on the "B" pages are numbered 51 through 100.

STREET
The street name (if included) will be written sideways.  NOTE:  You will need to repeat the Street Name for each person the street encompasses.  DO NOT merge the cells and turn the letters sideways.  The text files that are created from your spreadsheet cannot handle sideways text.

STREET NUMBER (1)
Enter what you see, if they have filled this in. The street number was more likely filled in when the census was taken in a city and not a rural area.

HOUSE NUMBER (2)
Enter what you see, if they have filled this in. The house number was more likely filled in when the census was taken in a city and not a rural area.

DWELLING NUMBER (3) and FAMILY NUMBER (4)
Enter these numbers as they change and repeat the appropriate entries for each individual entered. Do not worry if the enumerator skipped numbers or numbered backwards. If the numbers aren't in the correct sequence, please add a comment about it in the Remarks field to indicate that you did not make a mistake with the numbering. Occasionally you will see two or more Family Numbers with the same Dwelling Number. Enter what you see.

Occasionally a word will be entered in these columns instead of a number. An example would be the word "Jail". If you see something like this, enter the word in the column it appears if it is a small word. Also, at times they may write sideways that this is a boarding house or tavern house, in this case you can enter in the Remarks field, that "boarding house is written in for lines X to X".

LAST NAME (5) and FIRST NAME (5)
The 1920 enumeration recorded the name of every person living at each residence on January 1, 1920, omitting those born after January 1, 1920. 

  • Names may appear on the census as "John Doe" or as "Doe, John", but you will enter the last name (Doe) in the Last Name field and the first name (John) will be entered into the First Name field.

  • Do not abbreviate a name if the enumerator wrote out the entire name and do not spell out the full name when he abbreviated it. If you see Wm, enter Wm. If you see William, enter William.

  • Do not correct the enumerator's spelling errors. Even if it is your own family and the name is terribly mispelled, enter it exactly as it appears on the census.
  • When the enumerator used "ditto", ditto marks ( " ), or the word "do", please enter the name that the ditto mark represents. See example dittos marks the enumerator may have used.
  • If a name was abbreviated, and the final letter is a little raised, add an apostrophe in place of the omitted letters in the name.

      Transcription Example:  Thos -  you would enter: Tho's
  • Questionable letters in a name should be indicated by an asterisk * and you may want to put a note in the Remarks field of that line to note that some letters are hard to read or unreadable.

      Transcription Example - LAST NAME: D*e     FIRST NAME: Jo*n
  • Titles (ie: Jr., Sr., Dr.) are to be entered at the end of the person's first name(s).

      Transcription Example - LAST NAME: Doe     FIRST NAME: John Sr.
  • Enter NS (no surname) *ONLY* for names such as:
    • Brother Ignatius
    • Sister Mary
    • American Indian Names (Running Doe)
    • Servants (John A man of color)
    * Look closely for surname ditto marks before you use NS. See these examples.

RELATIONSHIP TO HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD (6)
Enter the person's relationship to the head of the household as seen on the census. You could see self, wife, daughter, son, step son, step daughter, granddaughter, grandson, mother, father, uncle, cousin, brother in law, sister in law, brother, sister, etc.. Enter what is written in. If nothing is written in, leave it blank.

HOME OWNED OR RENTED (7)
Did they own or rent the house they are living in? O (for owned) or the letter R (for rented). Enter what you see.

IF OWNED, FREE OF MORTGAGE (8)
Did they own the home without a mortgage? F (for Free), M (for Mortgaged).  Enter what you see.

SEX (9)
Entered as M or F. If the sex was not recorded or if it is unreadable, enter the letter U and add a note in the Remarks field about it being unreadable or not being entered. Occasionally the enumerator recorded the age and sex in the wrong fields. If you run across a record like that, enter them in the correct places and add a note about it in the Remarks field for that individual. IF you find a Nancy marked as a male or a William marked as a female, please enter the sex as you see it, but make a note about it in the Remarks field to let others know that you did not make a typo.

COLOR OR RACE (10)
Enter what is listed. The 1920 options were W (white), B (black), Mu (Mulatto), In (Indian), Ch (Chinese), Jp (Japanese), Fil (Filipino), Hin (Hindu), K (Korean), or Ot (Other). If there is no entry, leave it blank. The enumerator may have marked every person, or he may have only marked persons who were not white. If the column is empty, leave it empty, otherwise enter what you see.

AGE (11)
Enter the age seen. IF you can not read the age or if there is no age listed, enter the letter "U" and add a note in the Remarks field about it not being there or being unreadable. If you find two children with the same age listed, note it in the Remarks field. This is just a "silent" way of saying you didn't make a typo and yes there are two children the same age in this household. BEFORE you type in "twins", are you absolutely sure they are twins and not cousins being raised in the same household because of deceased parents? There are some cases, where it IS noted on the census that the children are twins, and in that case, then please note that it is noted as twins on the census.

The ages for the infants should be entered just as the enumerator wrote them. You might see a fraction, such as 4/12 (representing four months) or maybe a zero (0). Enter the numbers exactly as recorded. If he wrote mos. or months after the number or fraction, then type that same information. If your spreadsheet software insists on converting the fraction ages to a date, simply type an apostrophe ( ' ) immediately before the fraction to force the spreadsheet to treat the following information as text.

    Example:  '4/12

SINGLE, MARRIED, WIDOWED, DIVORCED (12)
If the individual was single, widowed or divorced the enumerator might have entered the letter S for single, M for married, Wd for widowed, or D for divorced, or he may have just made a mark in the column.  IF he just made a mark then enter the letter X, otherwise enter what you see.

YEAR OF IMMIGRATION (13)
What year did they come to the US? Enter the number seen.

WHETHER NATURALIZED OR ALIEN (14)
If this column is filled in, you should see either the letter Na (for Naturalized), Pa (for 1st papers), or an Al (for alien).  If all you see is a mark, then enter a X, otherwise enter what you see.

IF NATURALIZED, YEAR (15)
If the individual was naturalized, the year naturalization occurred will be entered here. Enter the date written in.

ATTENDED SCHOOL (16)
If the individual attended school at any time since Sept. 1, 1919, the enumerator may have made a mark or written in Y, N, Yes or No.  Type what you see.

ABLE TO READ (17) and ABLE TO WRITE (18)
Could the individual read or write? This may be answered with Y, N, Yes, or No. Type what you see.

PLACE OF BIRTH (19)
Enter the Place of Birth as you see it spelled. Do NOT correct spelling or abbreviation errors. The enumerator may have used the 2 letter code for a state, or he may have written the whole word out, or he may have written his own abbreviation for a state or place name. New York can be found as NY, New York and N.York. If only one letter was entered, that is all you can enter too and note it in the Remarks field. Example, a birthplace was listed as only "O", we do not know if that means Ohio, Oregon, or Oklahoma. Enter only what you see.

MOTHER TONGUE (20)
What was the first language the individual spoke? Enter what you see.

PLACE OF BIRTH OF FATHER (21)
Enter the Place of Birth of the individual's father as you see it spelled. Do NOT correct spelling or abbreviation errors. The enumerator may have used the 2 letter code for a state, or he may have written the whole word out, or he may have written his own abbreviation for a state or place name. New York can be found as NY, New York and N.York. If only one letter was entered, that is all you can enter too and note it in the Remarks field. Example, a birthplace was listed as only "O", we do not know if that means Ohio, Oregon, or Oklahoma. Enter only what you see.

MOTHER TONGUE OF FATHER (22)
What was the first language the individual's father spoke? Enter what you see.

PLACE OF BIRTH OF MOTHER (23)
Enter the Place of Birth of the individual's mother as you see it spelled. Do NOT correct spelling or abbreviation errors. The enumerator may have used the 2 letter code for a state, or he may have written the whole word out, or he may have written his own abbreviation for a state or place name. New York can be found as NY, New York and N.York. If only one letter was entered, that is all you can enter too and note it in the Remarks field. Example, a birthplace was listed as only "O", we do not know if that means Ohio, Oregon, or Oklahoma. Enter only what you see.

MOTHER TONGUE OF MOTHER (24)
What was the first language the individual's mother spoke? Enter what you see.

WHETHER ABLE TO SPEAK ENGLISH (25)
It was asked if they could speak English. If they did not speak English, the language was suppose to be written in. You could see English, German, French, etc.. Enter what you see.

TRADE OR PROFESSION (26)
Enter as you see it spelled. This site, Old Time Jobs, might help you to figure out some of those occupations. The Occupation might be the first field that you start seeing "ditto", ditto marks ( " ), or the word "do". Do NOT use ditto marks. Enter the occupation that the ditto mark represents.

GENERAL NATURE OF INDUSTRY (27)
What was the nature of their industry? If their occupation was mail carrier, they may have answered that the nature of their industry was Rural Route, or farmer could have answered as General Farm or Home/Farm. Enter what you see.

EMPLOYER, SALARY or WAGE WORKER, or WORKING ON ACCOUNT (28)
You may see the letter E, or Emp, or Empl or the full word, Employer.  OA (on account), W (wage worker).  Enter what you see.

NUMBER OF FARM SCHEDULE (29)
What was their farm schedule number? Enter the number seen.


Template Tips

The Remarks column
It is the right-most column on your template. Please use the remarks field to enter everything on the census that needs to be brought to the attention of a researcher or any other information you feel is important. (ie: any additional writing on the census; if a name is hard to read or unreadable; a disruption in the numbering sequence; etc.)  If the comment you want to make is specific for one name or a group of names, put it in the Remarks field.  If the comment is general information about a group of pages or the entire census, type your information in a separate worksheet or file and reference the page and line number so researchers will know what line you are referring to. When you submit your census transcription to the Census Project, you can include the extra comments file at that same time. If you do not have a Remarks column on your template, you may add one in on the far right.

How to Freeze the Template Column Headers
Using Excel, you can freeze the column headings of the first page, and several of the left columns. The frozen areas will remain visible while the entered data scrolls underneath the headers and off the screen. It is much easier to enter the census information when you can see the column header and row name for the line you are entering.

  • To freeze the top horizontal header rows, select the row below where you want the split to occur.

  • To freeze the left vertical columns, select the column to the right of where you want the split to occur.

  • To freeze both the horizontal headers, and the vertical columns click the cell below and to the right of where you want the split to appear.

    Note: If you move the top census information block off the screen before you do step 2, it will leave more screen room for the rows you are entering. To do this, use the horizontal scroll bar and the up/down triangle pointer buttons at the top and bottom of the scroll bar and scroll so that you see only the column header at the top of the screen and not the 6 or 7 rows that contain the census info.

  • On the menu-bar, click "Window".
    On the "Window" drop-down menu list, click "Freeze Panes".

  • Later if you want to undo the frozen panes:
    On the menu-bar, click "Window".
    On the "Window" drop-down menu list, click "Unfreeze Panes".

MAKE A BACKUP COPY!
To make a backup copy of your census file, after finishing for the day and saving the file to your hard drive, do a "File, SAVE AS" and save it somewhere else on your computer OR on a diskette. If the file gets too big for a diskette, use a ZIP Program to zip it so that it will fit onto the disk. Better to be safe than to lose all of your hard work from a computer problem.


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