Monday, April 25, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Inputting Data on a Census Form - 1900

1900 U.S. Federal Census

Pet Peeve time...with a solution...

I love that (and other sites) have blank copies of U.S. Census forms that you can print out and transcribe the results of your search in.  What I don't like is that I've found very few where you can actually type in the information and save it to your computer.

I was trolling the National Archives site checking out the info on the 1940 census last week and saw that they had a .pdf that you could input data into...but only for the 1940 census.  I checked a couple other years and found no others like this.  The down-side (apart from the 1940 census still being just under a year away)?  You can't save the data on the form.  So I conducted a quick Google search on blank census forms, got loads of hits, but nothing I found was what I wanted so I decided to make my own.

Sunday was my birthday and we have a tradition in our family.  Whoever's birthday it is gets to be "king" or "queen" for the day.  We adjust and take the Saturday closest to our birthday so we can make the most of that day.  You can have cake and ice cream for breakfast, sleep in, stay up late and pretty much do whatever you want as long as it's not dangerous or outrageously expensive.  As a mom who adores her children, what I wanted to do was have time to myself with a computer and I went to Barnes and Noble.  This is where I started working on my version of the 1900 U.S. Census form that you can input and save your data to.  Yes, I know...this is what I chose to do on my birthday, but it's not all I did! :)

You can download the Excel spreadsheet, save it and use it as many times as your heart's content (as long as you rename the file, but we all knew that, right?).  Remember that if you save the spreadsheet and image of the census as the same name they'll be right next to each other in the folder you save them to...convenient!

You can print them out or not.  It doesn't matter because now that you can save the transcribed data on the form, you've got it on your computer for when you need it.  As long as you make sure to back up your data and ensure that you change/convert file-types with the times!

This is my first form and while it is very similar to the one on I made sure that the information on the form is what the census asks, not what may have been abbreviated on the form or on their website (although they really didn't change too much).  The top of the form, is exactly (or as close to exact as I could get) to what is on the census as well.  I really don't like how the top of the form looks at all.  I want to know the data at the top of the original census...period.

There's enough room on one form for 10 inhabitants.  I know that some families were larger than that, but most weren't and I didn't want to make the lines too small.  You can just fill in another form and specify in the "Comments" section of the sheet if it's not the only page.  Don't worry about accidentally typing into the header boxes either.  I've locked the sheet so you can only input in areas that you need to.

One drawback that I could not figure out...when typing in the data for an individual, when you hit the "tab" key to advance to the next box it won't go from #15 on the top of the form to #16 on the bottom so you can continue to input for that person.  You have to manually go there.  If anyone knows how to link the boxes on an Excel spreadsheet so that it will jump to that top box on the bottom set of data, please let me know!

NOTE:  When you open up the spreadsheet in Google Documents it has a blank page #1.  This will not be there when you download it.  No idea why this happens, but perhaps I'll figure it out when I work with Google Docs more.


There were some readers experiencing issues downloading the census form and were getting an error message while others aren't having any problems.  I made some changes, i.e. - reconnected the link, opened permissions more, and changed the file to an older version of Excel.  If you still can't get the document to download, just send me an email and I'll be more than happy to send you a copy!

Cheryl Cayemberg