• Alabama Trails To The Past
  • Alabama Trails To The Past

Questions Asked on the 1880 Census

US 1880 Census Download


  • In a city, house number and street name
  • Name, age, sex and color of every person in the household
  • If a person was born within the year, the month of birth was given
  • Relationship of each person to the Head of Household
  • Is the person single, married, widowed or divorced
  • Was the person married within the year
  • Occupation of each male
  • Occupation of each female
  • How many months was the person unemployed during the census year
  • Whether or not a person was sick or temporarily disabled, and if so, the nature of the illness
  • Whether a person was blind, deaf, dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, crippled, bedridden or permanently disabled
  • Did the person attend school within the year
  • Can the person read and write
  • Place of birth of each person
  • Place of birth of each person's mother
  • Place of birth of each person's father

Census Tip: The 1880 census was the first census to ask each person where their parents were born. This is a tremendous help to genealogy researchers. If you can find your ancestor in this census, you will most likely know where their parents were born..... unless they didn't know..... unfortunately, this can be fairly common. This is also the first census to give each person's relationship to the head of household. This little tidbit should help clear up any confusion as to the family members within a family unit. Just as in today's families, keep in mind, the wife is not always the mother of all children listed. When it lists a child, that relationship is to the head of household.

With the listing of actual street addresses of city dwellers in the 1880 census, actual residences may be pinpointed.


NOTE: This is the first census to use Indian as a race and not all will appear in the regular population schedules. If searching for an Indian family, check the Special Indian Schedules.

NOTE: This is the last census to provide mortality schedules, whereby each person who died in the year previous to the census was listed by name with cause of death.

NOTE: Soundex: This census is the first one to be "soundexed". The soundexing system uses a numbering system for letters allowing a name to be indexed by the way it sounds, rather than the way it is spelled. The census was indexed by Soundex code on index cards which in turn have been recorded on microfilm which is housed at NARA, the LDS Library in Salt Lake City and various libraries. Each index card lists all family members making it easier to find someone in the 1880 census records.

NOTE: The 1880 Federal Census Index at Ancestry.com can be accessed freely after registering. This is in conjunction with the Church of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah.

NOTE: The data from the 1880 census schedules have been transcribed and placed online by the LDS Church at FamilySearch.org. This is especially helpful when used in conjunction with the free 1880 Federal Census Index at Ancestry.com.




For the 1880 census, enumerators asked residents questions across several categories, including occupation, health, education, and nativity. Listed by column number, the following information was gathered:

  1. Number of dwelling home, in order of visitation by the enumerator
  2. Number of family, in order of visitation by the enumerator
  3. Name
  4. Color

    Enumerators were to mark "W" for White, "B" for Black, "Mu" for Mulatto, "C" for Chinese [a category which included all east Asians], of "I" for American Indian
  5. Sex
  6. Age
  7. If the person was born within the census year, what was the month?
  8. Relationship to the head of the family
  9. Is the person single?
  10. Is the person married?
  11. Is the person widowed or divorced?

    Enumerators were to mark "W" for widowed and "D" for divorced
  12. Was the person married within the census year?
  13. Profession, occupation, or trade
  14. Number of months the person had been employed within the census year
  15. Was, on the day of the enumerator's visit, the person was sick or disabled so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties? If so, what was the sickness or disability?
  16. Was the person blind?
  17. Was the person deaf and dumb?
  18. Was the person idiotic?
  19. Was the person insane?
  20. Was the person maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled?
  21. Had the person attended school in the past year?
  22. Can the person not read?
  23. Can the person not write?
  24. What was the person's place of birth?
  25. What was the person's father's place of birth?
  26. What was the person's mother's place of birth?