The next census on the list of sources I work with is the 1900 census of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
This census was taken on December 1, 1900 and is different from the others described before, it provides one form per resident of a village including non-residents who are “only” present for a visit or else.
This example is the census form of my 3rd great grand uncle Johann Joachim Heinrich Freytag. You might see, that his last name is written with an i instead of an y, which brings me back to Golden Roule of Genealogy #1 “spelling dusnt count” ;)
The header provides information on the place where the census was taken: Diedrichshagen
“Zählkarte Nr. 4 zur Haushaltungsliste Nr. 9 des Zählbezirks Nr. 1”
When I started with this census I never really looked at this line. Big mistake, let me tell you!
This line tells me that Johann Freytag was the fourth member accounted for in the ninth household in the first district that was counted. Which tells me that at least 3 more people lived with him on December 1, 1900. And that at least 8 more households have to be mentioned in the 1900 census. Very important, if several branches of the family tree live in the same village (like in my tree).
Going number by number:
1. first and last name – actually calling name and last name. I have several families where all sons have the first name Johann and they are distinguished by one of their several middle names. I use this census to mark the calling name in my family tree in capital letters.
2. gender – the applicable is underscored
3. marital status – again the applicable (single, married, widowed, divorced) is underscored. My 3rd great grand uncle was widowed on December 1, 1900. If I didn’t find the exact death date for his wife yet, I can at least narrow it down to “before December 1, 1900”
4. Age – given is the exact birth date with October 7 in the year 1822
5. place of birth and the district – in this case Diedrichshagen in the district of Grevesmühlen (sometimes written as Grevismühlen). For people born outside of the grandduchy also the state and for people born in Prussia also the district had to be mentioned. If you search for your German ancestors you might have heard more often than you would like this sentence “There was no GERMANY before at least 1871”. And here you would find the states, kingdoms, duchies, grandduchies, earldoms etc. for someone coming from out of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
6. occupation, status, profession. Whereas 6a provides the occupation and 6b the rank. In this case, Johann was already an “Altenteiler” (a retired farmer who handed over his farm to one of his sons with the lifelong right to live on the farm. A different example would be 6a: bricklayer and 6b) apprentice for someone learning to be a bricklayer
7a. here the village is mentioned in which the person (for married people, the family) is living. In this case it is simple, Johann is accounted for at the place he is also living. For people from outside of the grandduchy the state as to be named and for people from Prussia also the district (compare to No. 5)
7b. asks for the same information but not for the place to live but for the place the person works (or if the person is already retired where the last occupation was)
8. religious denomination – in this case lutheranian, as in 99.9% of my family from there. I don’t want to say 100% since I am not done yet and maybe there will be a Catholic or Jew show up somewhere in my tree. But this information helps you to figure out which churchbooks you have to find to research this ancestor.
9. the first language spoken
10. Nationality (if they belong to the German Reich or not) – but please see that as Nationality still “Mecklenburg-Schwerin” is given, not “German”
11. this section is for active military personell: the military rank and the troop unit has to be stated
12. and the last one asks for the following physical deficits: blind on both eyes or deaf-mute and if the handicap occured during the first 2 years or later. I am not really sure why that should have been important, to be honest.
The summary for my example:
On December 1, 1900 Johann Freitag (a.k.a. Johann Joachim Heinrich Freytag) is already widowed. He is born on October 7, 1822 in Diedrichshagen in the district of Grevesmühlen. He is a retired farmer, his place of living and his last place of occupation was Diedrichshagen in the district of Grevesmühlen. He is of lutheranian religion, his first language spoken is German and he is of Mecklenburg-Schwerin nationality. He is not an active military member and is not physically handicapped as in blind or deaf-mute.
One more hint:
When you research this census online, either on ancestry.com or on familysearch.org make sure to always click several pages to the left and right to check for other members of the household, comparing the header I highlighted in blue above. Watch out for the number of the “Haushaltungsliste” (list of households)