Special Censuses of Deaf Families and Indian Rolls

r By Ginny Ackerson

This month, in a continuing series on the United States Federal censuses, we will discuss the special census of deaf citizens and the Indian Census Rolls from 1885-1940.

The U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1888-1895 was conducted under the auspices of the Volta Bureau. The Volta Bureau, located in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1887 by Alexander Graham Bell. The Bureau promoted research in regards to marriages of the deaf in America. This work was primarily undertaken by Dr. E. A. Fay. The federal government even appointed Dr. Fay as its special agent for collecting such statistical information. As part of Dr. Fay’s research on marriages of the deaf, he distributed a questionnaire to deaf couples and family members of deaf individuals. The questionnaires were completed during the years 1889-1894. Information recorded on these forms includes: the names of husband and wife, whether they were deaf or hearing, the age at which deafness occurred and the cause of deafness, if they attended school, their occupation, details of the couple’s marriage (including date and place), details of the couple’s children (number deaf or hearing, names, dates of birth or death, cause of death, etc.), and details relating to husband’s and wife’s parents, brothers and sisters.

The U.S., Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940 are census rolls usually submitted each year by agents or superintendents in charge of Indian reservations, as required by law. The data on the rolls varies to some extent. For certain years – including 1935, 1936, 1938, and 1939 – only supplemental rolls of additions and deletions were compiled. There is not a census for every reservation or group of Indians for every year. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under federal supervision are listed on these census rolls. Most of the rolls for the year 1940 were retained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and are not included in this database. Rolls were not required to be submitted after 1940 so only a few post-1940 records are included. Information contained in this database can include: name (Indian and/or English), gender, age, birth date, relationship to head of family, marital status, tribe name, agency and reservation name.

Next month we’ll conclude this series on the Federal census returns with a discussion about the Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880. Non-population schedules contained in Ancestry’s database include agriculture, industry/manufacturers and social statistics which all have many benefits for genealogists.

Chris Baird
Chris Bairdhttp://www.servedaily.com
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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