Instructions to the 1880 Census Taker


The important point in this Schedule is the question in the column, headed "Disease or cause of death." Especial pains must be taken in this column to make the answer full and exact, and to this end, attention is called to the following points:

Enter the name of the primary disease in all cases, and where the immediate cause of death has been a complication or consequence of the primary disease, enter that also. For instance, enter all cases of death resulting either immediately or remotely from measles, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, remittent fever, small pox, &c., under the names of those diseases, but add also dropsy, hemorrhage from the bowels, pneumonia, and &c., if these occurred as complications and were the more immediate cause of death. In cases of death from hemorrhage, specify the origin of the hemorrhage, thus: hemorrhage from aortic aneurism, hemorrhage from ulcer of intestines in typhoid fever, hemorrhage from lungs, hemorrhage from wound of neck, &c. So also for abscess, aneurism, cancer, carbuncle, dropsy, tumor, ulcer, specify the organ or part affected, as iliac abscess, abscess of liver; femoral aneurism; carbuncle on lip; cancer of breast, cancer of uterus, cancer of face; dropsy of chest, dropsy of abdomen; inflammation of brain, inflammation of liver; tumor of neck, tumor of abdomen; ulcer of face, ulcer of groin, &c. Typhus, typhoid, and typho-malarial fevers should be carefully distinguished. Especial inquiry should be made for cases of "still-births", including infants born dead from whatever cause. As few deaths as possible should be reported under such general terms as disease of the throat, disease of the brain, disease of the liver, disease of the lungs, disease of the bowels, disease of the spine, &c. These should, as far as possible, be reported under special heads.

Make sure that the distinction between apoplexy, epilepsy, and paralysis is understood. Distinguish between acute and chronic bronchitis, acute and chronic dysentery or diarrhoea, acute and chronic rheumatism. Report cerebro-spinal meningitis as cerebro-spinal fever. Do not report as the cause of death old age, or intemperance, or debility, or paralysis of the heart, or sudden death, in any case where it is possible to name any definite disease. In reporting suicide name the means, whether cutting of throat, hanging, drowning, shooting, poisoning by opium, arsenic, &c.

A space is left at the bottom of each page of this Schedule for remarks. It is desired that the enumerators should there describe any particular malady or unusual or peculiar disease which has prevailed in the subdivision, and the supposed cause thereof. In case of any unusual number of deaths by violence or accident (as by the caving of a mine, or similar calamity), an explanation should be given in the space for remarks.

The enumerator should endeavor to see in person every physician residing in or near his enumeration district, who is name in this Schedule as the physician attending at death, and courteously invite him to inspect the entries in regard to the cause of death in his cases, and to verify or restate them as the facts may demand. For this purpose spaces are provided below, numbered to correspond with the lines of the Schedule upon the other side.

If the physician finds the entry in the Schedule correct and fully in accordance with the foregoing instructions he is requested to make the entry in the proper numbered space below: Correctly stated. If he does not deem it correct, it is desired that he restate the cause of death in the numbered space in accordance with his own views, signing each entry.

The enumerator should also inquire of each physician within his enumeration district whether he has a record or register of deaths occurring during the Census year, kept at the request of the Superintendent of Census, and if so, will offer to take charge of and forward the same to the Census Office under his official frank.



Back to the 1880 Mortality Schedule