Geneology "amateur psychiatry" in census!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DDD, Feb 1, 2009.

  1. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Just read the most interesting article. Well, I found it interesting. :D

    As many of you know the Census records of the US are used by genealogists to track births/deaths etc. in the ancestor hunt. I have some experience in that area and have found it worthwhile. This article, however, shares that starting in l870 citizens were suppose to be listed as having certain mental and/or physical conditions. "Column 18 was to identify whether each resident was 'deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict' without a professional assessment". The census takers
    were instructed to approach neighbors if they suspected the family was hiding the weakness of a family member.

    OMG! Can you imagine having neighbors identify issues in your family?
    My sense of history is defective but when did they have the Salem witch trails? Eh Gods!

    Some of these records are still available and to find out if one is available for your area go to the National Archives site

    Once there you click on a hyperlink "Part 3:NARA Non-population Census Microfilm List by State
    Then, use the online microfilm catalog to see where to view the film and order it.

    Is that interesting or what????? DDD
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    The witch trials were in 1692. I am fascinated with the history of America. I have researched my mom's family back to 1700's.

    If they asked my neighbors for info, most wouldn't know a thing!!!

    I know my paternal grandmother's father died in an institution because he had epileptic seizures supposedly brought on my a kick to the head from a horse.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Wow. That is interesting! And more than a little unsettling. lol
  4. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I wonder what they did with that information? Back then, many families tended to "hide away" a relative that was mentally ill, or even suspected of being mentally ill.

    I LOVE poking around in old stuff like that! A friend of mine had told me about her great-grandfather(?) who had been a doctor in a small town near here at about that same time period, just after the Civil War. I started surfing around and came up with undertaker and funeral home records from long, long ago for that little town! Kind of gruesome but fascinating to see what people died from back then! Lots of very young people, lots of small children, young women who had died in childbirth, men who died in every conceivable type of farm accident.

    I always thought it would be neat if you could find some of the old records from Ellis Island and dig through them. From what I understand, they made quick judgements like that on people and deciding who could be admitted and who couldn't.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Donna, according to the article the info was entered on line 18 and you can use the Archives link to see if that is available for the county you are interested in checking out. Like you I find things like that interesting from a historical view. Even the old wills were fascinating and often made me wonder why son#3 got the land and son#1 got a cow!! DDD
  6. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    DDD, some of that stuff is really interesting!

    One of my cousins who is in to geneology just found out that our great-grandfather died at a young age because a horse fell on his head! That doesn't happen too much any more!
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I worked on our family history and actually MET a distant cousin on line through doing so. She traced our family roots clear back to the Roman Empire - JUST WILD.

    She's writing a book - and about the most crazy person in our family tree in the last 75 years dug his own grave BEFORE he died. I would imagine that got him a pecan award.
  8. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    My cousin that does the geneology met a distant cousin that way too! And this guy had done a lot of his own research and had a lot of things, old records, pictures, etc. that my cousin didn't have.

    It's the weirdest thing! This man is a v-e-r-y distant cousin - we only have great-grandparents in common with him. He sent pictures of himself and his family to my cousin ... and he looks exactly like my dad and his brothers! If you had put him in with them, you couldn't have picked out the distant cousin from the brothers!