AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
In The 1850-1860 Census
In Response To: At Wits End...1860 Census ()
In the 1850 & 1860 census, while the census was supposed to list whether a person was white, black or mulatto, much of the census that I've seen for those 2 years did not bother to fill in the "W" for white, but they did indicate race for black and mulatto. Your mention of the checkmarks in the columns were not part of the actual census taking, they were probably made afterwards by those auditing the census pages. It was their way of tallying up various columns representing say the races, or the occupations, and in some cases, I've seen, they were identifying those who could read or write. There was a famous case a few years ago when someone mis-interpreted those checkmarks, or tics, and came up with a whole new category that they thought meant "Free White Mulattoes" for which they made a whole case study of which was widely read, but turned out to be entirely wrong because he did not understand that those marks were not a part of the original census pages. Most all of the census pages have some kind of tic marks made by the clerks or officials later going over the figures and one should be careful when interpreting what's on the census and to thoroughly read the pages and their instructions for each year.
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