THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LI APRIL, 1948 No. 4
Ilisttor front the Cetsus
BARNES F. LATHROP
THE original manuscript returns of the decennial census
enumerations of the United States, beginning in 1790,
have long been prized by genealogists, and in the last
twenty-odd years have received increasing 'appreciation among
historians.' Yet employment of this material in historical work
remains on the whole so sporadic or so slight that the unprinted
census records must still be classed as a great neglected source.
The present article undertakes to describe the manuscript sched-
ules, and to canvass their potential uses, in the hope of attracting
more attention to the census source in general, and to the returns
for Texas, 1850-188o, in particular.
1The priority in census exploration of genealogists and other seekers after per-
sonal detail is manifest in the annual reports, 1904 and following, of the Director
of the Census. On census data in relation to genealogy, see Gilbert Harry Doane,
Searching for Your Ancestors: The Why and How of Genealogy (New York, Lon-
don, c. 1937), 144-156, 232-235, and index under "Census." Joseph A. Hill, in
"The Historical Value of the Census Records," a paper read before the American
Historical Association, and published in Annual Report, 19o8, vol. I (Washington,
1909), 197-208, made perhaps the earliest effort to interest historians in census
subjects. A recent invitation to the census appears at pages 48-51 in that excellent
manual, Local History, How to Gather It, Write It, and Publish It (n.p., [19441),
by Donald Dean Parker, revised and edited by Bertha E. Josephson for the Social
Science Research Council. Examples of Texas studies depending in some part upon
the manuscript census returns include R. L. Biesele, The History of the German
Settlements in Texas, z83x-z861 (Austin, c. 1930); Abigail Curlee, A Study
of Texas Slave Plantations, 1822 to 1865 (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, The
University of Texas, 1932); A. F. Muir, "The Free Negro in Harris County, Texas,"
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLVI (Jan., 1943), 214-238; I. T. Taylor, The
Cavalcade of Jackson County (San Antonio, c. 1938) ; G. W. Tyler, The History of
Bell County (ed. by Charles W. Ramsdell; San Antonio, 1936); and Clarence R.
Wharton, History of Fort Bend County (San Antonio, 1939).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/. Accessed January 25, 2015.