For the purpose of this short guide, abstracting census data means we collect and record all the important information about each member of the enumerated family. One can use any system they choose, but here is the one we use. You will find abstracts by clicking on the keys for census citatations in personal page footnotes.
To conserve space, many data elements that are common and repetitive are abbreviated. Some abbreviations are quite obvious (e.g., dau for daughter), while the rest are easily learned from the table. Stylistically, we list last name, first name and middle initial (if reported), all in capital letters with no punctuation.
|Abbreviation||Expansion||Examples * Explanation|
|ae||age||ae23=23 years old;
ae2y3mo=age 2 years and 3 months;
1Mae26=first marriage at age 26.
|att sch||attended school||att sch 4mo=attended school 4 months.
Usually refers to attendance within the census year.
|b.||born||b.NY=born in NY;
b.JAN1892=born in January 1892.
|ch||children||3ch/2surv=had 3 children, two are still living|
|dau||daughter||(relationship to head of household)|
|fb.||father born||fb.GER=father born in Germany|
|G (1940)||elementary grade||highest elementary grade completed (G8=eighth grade)|
|grson||grandson||(relationship to head of household)|
|H (1940)||highschool grade||highest grade completed (H2=two years high school)|
|hd||head of household|
|imm||immigrated to the U.S.||imm1844=immigrated to U.S. in 1844|
|inUS||lived in the U.S.||inUS26y=lived in the U.S. for 26 years|
|M||married||M6y=married for 6 years;
2M12y=married twice, this time for 12 years
1Mae26=first married at age 26
|MAR||work history||MAR/52=52 hours worked March 24-30, 1940|
|mb.||mother born||mb.foreign=mother of foreign birth|
|nat||naturalized citizen||(immigration status)|
|PE||value of personal estate||PE500=personal estate valued at $500|
|RE||value of real estate||RE1600=value of real estate is $1600|
|1935||residence in 1935||1935/same place (1940 census)|
|1939||1939 work history||1939/52wks/$1450 (1940 census)|
Here is an example of how we might abstract a pre-1850 US census where only the head of household is listed by name. The data in parens is a best guess based on other information about the family.
Household as of 1 June 1840. JOSEPH C. BISBEE 1 male under 5 (Curtis ae1) 2 males 5 to 9 (Cheney ae5) (Albert ae6) 1 male 30 to 39 (Joseph ae37) 1 female under 5 (Ruth Ann ae2) 1 female 10 to 14 (?Thaddeus ae10?) 1 female 30 to 39 (Sally Ann ae34) 1 female 40 to 49 (Charlotte Taylor ae45) Total of 8 persons, one engaged in agriculture.