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1900 Census Transcribing Help
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You will use a spreadsheet template to transcribe the 1900 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:

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 1900 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 1900 Microfilm Reel numbers all start with T623- followed by another number. Check the Assignment Web Pages to verify the film number of your transcription.
  • State
  • County or Parish
  • Township (or other division of county)
  • Name of Institution
  • Incorporated City, Town
  • Ward of City
  • Supervisor's District #
  • Enumeration District
  • Enumerator
  • Enumeration Date Range
  • 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 1900 census page is: Township or other division of county _______.
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.

The 2nd part will have columns and abbreviated column headings for each of the columns in the 1900 census, plus additional columns for the page number, line number, Enumeration District, Sheet Number, and a few more columns on the right.

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: June 1, 1900

Every other page will have a stamped page number on it, usually near the top right of the sheet.  There will be a preprinted "A" on the page with the stamped number, also in the upper-right corner.  For the stamped page - type the A immediately after the number.  For the following unstamped page, which will have a preprinted "B" in the upper-right corner, use the same number as the previous stamped page except type the B immediately after the number.  

    Transcription Example:    First Page (example stamped - 438): 438A
    Second page (unstamped): 438B
The "SHEET No." is the hand-written number that appears in the upper right-corner right under the preprinted words "Sheet No."   Sheet numbers start with 1 for each separate Enumeration District within the county.  Type the stamped A or B immediately after the number. 
    Transcription Example:  SHEET #: 1A

If your template is not pre-numbered with the Line Numbers, enter the line numbers for each line that you type in.  Depending on what spreadsheet software you use, there are ways to make it number for you by scrolling and holding down buttons. See the -help- file for your software. If your census starts on line 2, then you do the same, make it match the actual census as best as possible.  On the 1900 census the line numbers are 1 through 50 on the A pages, and 51 through 100 on the B pages.

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.

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.

Enter these numbers as they change. 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".

Names may appear on the census as "John Doe", 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.

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.

Enter what is listed. The 1900 options were W (white), B (black), Ch (Chinese), JP (Japanese), or In (Indian). Often the only time a letter is noted is for someone who is not white. If there is NO entry, leave the field blank.

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.

Occasionally the enumerator included the birth day or abbreviated the month. Enter exactly what you see on the census.

Enter the year listed here. If you notice a discrepancy between the age and birth-year you can add a comment about it in the REMARKS column.

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?

The ages for the infants should be entered just as the enumerator wrote them. If the enumerator wrote a fraction, such as 4/12 (representing four months), enter the fraction. 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

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 entered S, M, Wd, or D, then do the same. IF he just made a mark or answered with a Y (yes), then enter the letter X.

If the individual was married, the number of years married will be recorded in this field. You might see a fraction such as 8/12, which would stand for 8 months, or you could see any other number. Enter the numbers seen. If your spreadsheet software insists on converting a fraction 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

The number of children the mother had borne will be recorded in this field. Enter the number as seen.

The number of living children the mother had will be recorded in this field. Enter the number as seen. She may have had 4 children, but only 2 were living when the enumeration was taken, so the numbers can be different.

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.

What year did they come to the US? Enter the number seen.

Enter the number seen.

This column applies only to foreign-born makes 21 years of age and over. It does not apply to foreign-born minors, to foreign-born females, or to any person who was born in the US. There are only 3 abbreviations that should be in this column. Al, Na, or Pa. (Al for Alien - born abroad and has taken no steps toward becoming an American Citizen); Na (has become a full citizen by taking out second or final papers of naturalization); and Pa (has declared the intention of becoming an American citizen and taken out "first" papers.

OCCUPATION, (asked to those over age 10)
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.

Enter the number seen.

If the individual attended school within the census year, the number of months they attended will be recorded in this field. Enter the number seen.

This question pertained to people over 20 years of age, but occasionally you will see an 18 year old who has answered it as well. Type what you see (Yes, Y, No, N). If the field is marked in any other fashion on your census, then type the letter X.

Type what you see (Yes, Y, No, N). If all you see is just a mark, then enter the letter X.

Did they own or rent the house they are living in? This should have been answered for the Head-of-Household with the letter O for owned or the letter R for rented. Type what you see.

Do they own the home without a mortgage? This should have been answered for the Head-of-Household with the letter F for Free, or M for Mortgaged. Type what you see.

Is the place a Farm or a Home? This might have been answered with the letter F for farm or an H for home. Enter what is written there.

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".

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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