1900 census codes

I’m asking about the codes that were written above the head of households name and above the head of households relationship entry. For instance above his name might be 7-1 of 7, pretty sure that “7” is the total family members. The “1”? One family? One Head of Household? Above the heads entry 5-C, pretty sure 5 children.

Are the meaning of these codes documented anywhere?

On this page there is a great discussion of the occupation codes:

Referencing this book
Stephen N. Graham, “Chapter 8: Occupation Coding,” 1900 Public Use Sample: User’s Handbook (Draft Version), Seattle: Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington, 1980, pp. 72-77.
I wonder if that book has a chapter on other codes?


Our historical demographers here at IPUMS looked into this and they believe the code you refer to is a clerk code, not information entered by the original enumerators. They would guess that the code represents a count of the total number of people in the dwelling and the number of census families (defined by heads of household) in the dwelling above the name field. This distinction about census families is important because there can be unrelated persons (a boarder) living in a family who are considered part of the “head’s family.” This coding seems to explicitly refer to separately identified families (e.g. another Head). From the 1900 Enumerator Instructions:
“the best test for deciding the number of families is the number of separate tables. Each family usually, though not always, has its own meals.”

Regarding the relate field code, it looks like #-C refers to the number of children and #-R refers to the number of non-children relating to the head. For example

2-C 1-R

Could refer to:

Child, Child, Mother

Child, Child, Boarder

or other combinations. There could be other combinations our team is not aware of, and this interpretation of the codes, while from our historical Census experts, is based on speculation, and not on anything explicit in the Census Bureau’s documentation.

Thank you very much for your reply. By looking at several pages, I came to the same conclusion as to the meaning of the alpha-characters. I didn’t think about it being a clerk code, interesting! Thanks for confirming you don’t know of a specific source that spells it out. I have looked for a source off and on over the years and never found one. Thought I’d give it a shot here. I like your article on the occupational coding, that has been helpful to me!