Hi-I am a newbie to IPUMS. I am focusing on sex and occupation within a county and have created a data extract from the 1880 full sample. In general, I’m just doing counts, but I came across one entry where the woman’s occupation is given as cotton-mill operator. I’m really interested in finding out who this particular person is. I’ve tried searching Ancestry.com using some of the data from the extract, but no luck. Is there any way to use the serial # and/or can someone explain what the serial # 1623293 is telling me? From the documentation, I can see that the serial# is a combo of DWSEQ and HHSEQ, but not sure how many characters for each one and whether the dwelling # would match up with the Dwelling # field in Ancestry. Thanks for any advice.
Thank you for your question. In general, identification of individuals in public use data is not permitted.
IPUMS USA Restricted Use data files that include names of individuals for historical datasets (1790 - 1940) are available to researchers for linking purposes; using the data to identify specific people (i.e. for genealogical purposes) unless absolutely necessary is not recommended (see this FAQ for more information). To apply for access to restricted use data, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a detailed description of your research needs.
All this to say, the data available through IPUMS USA and IPUMS International are not intended to be used to identify individuals. Regarding your question about SERIAL, it is a household-level identifier (i.e. all persons in the same household are assigned the same serial number), created by IPUMS USA, that is meant to uniquely identify households within a single sample; it can be used in combination with PERNUM to uniquely identify individuals in a sample.