Fun with census records -- what does this notation mean?

+6 votes

OK, sleuths! Please take a look at line 68 in this 1940 U.S. Census record. Freda Deich was recorded as married, but there is no indication of the presence of a husband. Someone crossed out the "M" and replaced it with a "T" or possibly a "7." Does anyone know what that signifies?

in Genealogy Help by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (922k points)

1 Answer

+5 votes
Best answer
There are some "coding" columns on the 1940 census forms that the enumerator was told to leave blank and that were filled in later.  The appearance of that entry is the same as that of the entries in the coding columns.  That later work was a processing and tabulation phase where clerks converted non-numerical entries into numerical codes that could be tabulated by mechanical equipment.  The whole process is explained in great detail in a document called "Procedural History of the 1940 Census of Population and Housing," on the web at

There's a statement in it saying "For example, an entry of 'M' in column 12 for marital status was occasionally was occasionally coded "7."  If you're up for it, you can find the full explanation on pp. 61-62, but I'm going to guess that the document has far more detail about the census and its coding than any of us could ever possibly want to know!!
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (249k points)
selected by Ellen Smith
Thanks, Dennis. On page 63 of that thesis, I learned that the code "7" meant "married, spouse not present." That looks like an accurate description of this woman's status.

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