| | |

Evidentia Meets Relationships in the 1880 US Census

Let’s talk about relationships.

In 1880 the US government got nosey. They wanted to know what your relationship was to the head of household. This was great news for genealogists!

In fact, they wanted to know a lot of things:1

  1. Number of dwelling home, in order of visitation by the enumerator
  2. Number of family, in order of visitation by the enumerator
  3. Name
  4. Color
  5. Sex
  6. Age
  7. If the person was born within the census year, what was the month?
  8. Relationship to the head of the family
  9. Is the person single?
  10. Is the person married?
  11. Is the person widowed or divorced?
  12. Was the person married within the census year?
  13. Profession, occupation, or trade
  14. Number of months the person had been employed within the census year
  15. Was, on the day of the enumerator’s visit, the person was sick or disabled so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties? If so, what was the sickness or disability?
  16. Was the person blind?
  17. Was the person deaf and dumb?
  18. Was the person idiotic?
  19. Was the person insane?
  20. Was the person maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled?
  21. Had the person attended school in the past year?
  22. Can the person not read?
  23. Can the person not write?
  24. What was the person’s place of birth?
  25. What was the person’s father’s place of birth?
  26. What was the person’s mother’s place of birth?

1880US_MA-MarshieldThe entry we will be looking at is the page for Marshfield, MA2 that includes my 3rd GGF, Daniel Thompson.

This week I won’t reiterate how I would capture the claims for all the fields, but instead I will focus on relationships.


I have a confession to make – Evidentia is a little weak in the relationship department. You will see what I mean in a moment.

The table below captures the relationship claims I gleaned from the source record.

This source claims that… Subject/Claim Type
on June 8, 1880 Lydia A Thompson was the wife of Danl [Daniel] H Thompson. Thompson, Daniel Hart/Spouse
Peterson, Lydia/Spouse

Notice in the first claim, there are two tags, one for Daniel, indicating the claim references his spouse (Lydia) and one for Lydia, indicating the claim references her spouse (Daniel).

Why does one relationship require two tags? Why not just one for the relationship?

In my defense…ah shucks, I have no defense. This will be addressed when version 3 of Evidentia is released. For now, however, it is important to capture both sides of the relationship with tags so that it will appear in the Research Summary Report for each.

“But does that mean I need to do 2 proofs, proving that Lydia was the spouse of Daniel and proving that Daniel was the spouse of Lydia?”

No. I recommend just picking one to do a proof for.

“But if I don’t do a proof for both, Evidentia won’t let me export both.”

It is true that Evidentia only lets you export “proven” events and facts. If you are planning to export both persons to a GEDCOM or FamilySearch, simply copy the conclusion from one to the other.

What about the Children?

When documenting children, the situation is a little more complicated. I want to be sure to capture Mary’s relationship with her Father AND the relationship with her Mother.

This source claims that… Subject/Claim Type
Mary E Thompson was the daughter of Danl [Daniel] H Thompson. Thompson, Daniel Hart/Child(ren)
Peterson, Lydia/Child(ren)
Thompson, Mary E/Parent(s)

You may be thinking “the census says Mary is the daughter of Daniel, but that doesn’t mean she is the daughter of Lydia”. You would be correct. Note the the claim represents what the source says. How I choose to tag the claim represents the research question I want to include the claim in.

It is up to me to prove or disprove that Mary was also Lydia’s child when I analyze that information.

How many proofs does this represent? It depends on what you want to do with the proof, but if you want to use this data to export to your tree software (or FamilySearch), I recommend doing one proof from Mary’s side. In the GEDCOM fields section at the bottom of the Analyze Evidence screen, Evidentia will allow you to indicate both parents.


Spouse versus Marriage

You may be wondering why I did not use the Claim Type “Marriage” in place of or in addition to “Spouse” when tagging the relationship between Daniel and Lydia. This is a personal preference.

To me, Spouse implies a relationship while Marriage refers to an event. In this case the census record provides no information about when or where the “event” occurred, so I did not tag it with Marriage.

“But doesn’t the relationship at least imply that the “event” occurred?”

There is definitely something to be said for that argument. If I want to use the claim to help prove that the marriage occurred, I would add two additional tags

This source claims that… Subject/Claim Type
on June 8, 1880 Lydia A Thompson was the wife of Danl [Daniel] H Thompson. Thompson, Daniel Hart/Spouse
Peterson, Lydia/Spouse
Thompson, Daniel Hart/Marriage
Peterson, Lydia/Marriage

In this case this is not the first marriage for either one of them. Currently Evidentia invites you to prove all marriages for a person as part of a single proof. You can then capture the details for each in the fields section at the end.



While Evidentia clearly has some relationship issues, hopefully I have demonstrated how spousal and parent/child relationships can be documented.

I promise this will get easier. (Or is that what they all say?)

1 “Index of Questions: 1880.” United States Census Bureau. Accessed February 07, 2016. https://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/index_of_questions/1880_1.html.
2 “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHX8-GJ2 : accessed 7 February 2016), Lydia A Thompson in household of Danl H Thompson, Marshfield, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district ED 546, sheet 580A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0550; FHL microfilm 1,254,550.

Similar Posts


  1. This is great. I was just wondering about whether or not to include the mother in the claims when a census only actually specifies how child is related to the head of the household. Answered my question perfectly! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *