Census and the Poorhouse
the Poorhouse Story

Note: Don't forget about the various state census reports which were done in many states on years different from the federal census.

The federal census usually treated the Poorhouse as a household -- and in that household, might have listed employees (i.e. Keeper or Superintendent, and his family, and other people who may have worked in the poorhouse doing laundry, farm work, etc.) as well as inmates.

Researchers looking for someone on a census may never find them because (unbeknownst to the researcher) they were actually residing at the time in the Poorhouse for that county. Since the Poorhouse was likely not in the town from which the inmate came, and because most census indexes only list heads of households (which in this case would be the Keeper or Superintendent) -- well, researchers don't find these folks!

the Poorhouse Story if ...we could make sure they are easily found!

If we work together and share the information ... we can!  Here's how:

If you find a Poorhouse listed on a census, please note the State & County as well as the more specific location. Note the other information which can help people find that list on the census report. Then E-MAIL phlady@jump.net with the information. (If you are able to send the actual list of people living at the poorhouse at that time ... Great!  If not, just send what you can.)

Important Search Technique Tip:  If you use Internet Explorer as your browser, there is a wonderful feature you can use to search a given web page containing a census report ... so you can see if there is a poorhouse listed. Just click on  EDIT  at the top, then a drop-down menu appears. Click on FIND (On This Page). A window appears in which you can place a term for which you wish to search. Put any of these terms (only one at a time): "keeper" or "poorhouse" or "county home" or "poor farm" or "county farm" or "pauper" .... then click on Find Next. You may be surprised where you find poorhouse listings!
Here is a sample page which contains an image of an actual page of an 1850 Census report with a poorhouse listed.
(It takes a while to load.)

What will we do with the information?

  • -- We will put the information on The Poorhouse Story website on the appropriate state (or NY county) page. 
  • -- We will forward the information to the appropriate GenWeb and GenealogyExchange state/county ... so they can put it in their Census data.

This should make it much easier for researchers to discover people who were residing in Poorhouses at the time a Census was taken! (And we can all feel good that we made that happen.)

The Poorhouse Lady

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