Transcribed by an anonymous source. Copyright (c) 2006 IAGenWeb. All Rights Reserved.
for the IAGenWeb State Census Project http://iagenweb.org/census/
Formatted February 2006 by IAGenWeb Census Project Coordinator, Stephen D. Williams.

Transcriber's Notes:
  The following text was taken from the title page of an 1885 census schedule.



This census is taken in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, (Article 3,
Section 33) and the laws of the state. The last census taken under the auspices of the
state government was in the year 1875, ten years ago. No former period between the state
or territorial enumerations exceeded four years. Since the last federal census the period
elapsed is four and a half years; and this is the last enumeration of the people of the
state, which will be taken before the federal census of 1890, unless the legislature
shall otherwise direct, which is not probable. Prior enumerations have, through the
published tabulations thereof, been of great value to the state by reason of the
attention they attracted to the immense capabilities of Iowa for the production of so
much that can be utilized for human sustenance. The changed direction, which to some
extent has been given the state’s productiveness within the past few years, will, it is
believed, when the findings of this census are compiled and made public, present Iowa’s
resources in a new and attractive phase. This changed direction has induced the
introduction of queries calculated to elicit information concerning the extent and
comparative success thereof.

As this census is of date nearly midway between the two federal enumerations, and as many
of the states will take censuses that will date exactly half way between those
enumerations, it is desirable to make this census such a one as will correspond in
completeness and accuracy with those of the United States and of our sister states, or as
nearly so as the statute under which it is taken will permit.

As a step toward such completeness, it has been determined to take the enumeration of the
population by individuals instead of by head of families as has been done for some years
past. The mode now adopted for treating the population schedule is the same as that
adopted for the earlier state censuses, and by the federal government for all its
statistics, as well as by those of our sister states that have the most elaborate
compilations. The blanks containing the information pertaining to the population are
executed in duplicate, one to be retained by the county auditor, the other to be
transmitted to the secretary of state. The schedules pertaining to manufactures,
religious organizations, private schools, and newspapers will be treated in the same way.

The schedules are arranged in the following manner:

Schedule I contains the inquiries pertaining to the population.

Schedule II embraces the inquiries concerning the agricultural, live-stock, and kindred
interests. This schedule also comprises queries concerning such manufactures and mines as
may be found scattered throughout the agricultural districts, as well as the religious
organizations, etc, therein.

Actual inquiry should be made at every dwelling-house, and of every family therein, and
at each shop, or factory, for the information pertaining thereto. Inquiry should also be
made concerning families or members thereof, who are away from home, and who should be
included in the enumeration.

Persons doing business in one part of the state, but living elsewhere, are not to be
enumerated in the population, except where they actually reside. Their business, however,
if coming within the purview of any of the schedules, is to be reported where such
business is being done.

When the blanks are filled with the information pertaining to any family, farm or
business, the same should be read over to the person from whom the same was obtained, in
order that errors or omissions may be corrected.

Care should be taken to make the figures distinct, so that one figure may not be mistaken
for another.

The census of each ward in a city should be completed by itself, and so certified to the
county auditor. Every incorporated town will, of course, be separately reported by its
assessor. Where a city or town extends beyond the limits of one township, the schedules
for such different townships should be kept separate. The population statistics of all
unincorporated towns or villages, including all people living in town-plats which have
not been vacated, should be distinctly enumerated, so as to be distinguished from the
remainder of the township in which they respectively lie; but they will not be separately

In cities and incorporated towns it is always desirable that each block surrounded by
streets should be enumerated by itself, and be finished before the next is begun. An
exception to this suggestion, in relation to hotels, is advanced in the instructions
concerning population schedule. Particular care should be taken that persons residing in
out-of-the way places, such as on alleys and courts in the cities and towns, and on
private roads or away from any road in the county, be not overlooked.

The blanks are put up in packages for the use of the several assessors, estimates having
been made of the number each would probably require, the population and agricultural
schedules being separate. It is believed that an abundant supply of blanks has been
furnished, but if more be needed they will be supplied on application.

One copy of schedule II is sent for each incorporated town, and one or more for each ward
in a city, for the entry therein of the statistics pertaining to manufactures and mining,
private schools, religious organizations, and periodicals, as well as such facts
pertaining to agriculture, as may be elicited in the cities and towns. Where a tract of
land is cultivated for profit, to which, however, the appellation "farm," as described in
the instructions in Schedule II, will not apply, the findings of product, etc., will be
inserted in Schedule II, along with the name of the producer, but such tract will not be
numbered as a farm.

It is highly important that the census be completed, and the blanks "original and
duplicate" be returned to the county auditor, without delay. This the law requires to be
done on or before the first day of June, but it is believed that in almost the entire
state the work can be finished and in the county auditor’s office some time before that
date; and the compilation of the county abstracts, and the transmission thereof, and of
the duplicate county returns, to the office of the secretary of state, be in many cases
completed before the beginning of June.

Persons of intelligence will readily appreciate the objects for which the census is
taken, and will cooperate in facilitating the work of the officers in the performance of
their duties; but the assessor will occasionally meet with persons who will associate the
idea of taxation with the inquiries pertaining to agriculture, etc., and it may be
necessary for the officers to assure such persons that the inquiries, as will be
perceived on inspection, have been prepared so as to avoid, as much as possible,
eliciting any information calculated to have any bearing in the matter of property
valuation. Care should be taken to satisfy any, who may seem to need the assurance, that
the information obtained concerning any individual is not to be made public. All the
facts ascertained are to be compiled and given to the public in tabular form by totals of
townships, towns, wards, and cities. The population tables enable the lawmaking power
rightly to apportion the senators and representatives in the general assembly among the
several counties and groups of counties in the state, while the mass of data obtained is
calculated to impart valuable information not only to our own people but to the whole
world, concerning the development of the resources of the state and its growth in
numerical and economic strength.

Special instructions follow pertaining to the several schedules, particular attention to
which is invited.

Buren R. Sherman,
F.D. Jackson,
J.L. Brown,
V.P. Twombly,
Executive Council.

January 1885


Remember that the Census is to be taken as of January 1.

 1. Dwellings numbered in order of visitation:

    Under this head insert the number of dwelling-houses as they are visited. The first
    house visited to be numbered 1; the second one visited, 2; and so on to the last
    house visited in the district.

    By a dwelling-house is meant a separate inhabited tenement, having one or more
    families under one roof. Where several tenements are in one block, with brick or
    wood walls to divide them, having separate entrances, they are each to be numbered as
    separate houses.

    Uninhabited houses, not abandoned for dwelling purposes, must also be counted.

    If a house is used partly for a store, shop, office, or other purpose, and partly for
    a dwelling, it is to be numbered as a dwelling-house.

    Hotels, poor-houses, hospitals, asylums, and jails are each to be numbered as a

    The state educational, charitable, and penal institutions need not be visited by
    assessors. The necessary data will be obtained direct from the officers thereof upon
    blanks furnished by the executive council, and the findings thereof furnished the
    auditors of the proper counties.

    It is suggested that hotels, large boarding-houses, and other places having a
    considerable number of persons lodging thereat, be visited first, because of the
    greater liability to change of residence among so many persons, and the greater
    difficulty lapse of time will occasion in obtaining correct data.

 2. Families numbered in order of visitation

    Under this head insert the numbers of families visited, as in the case of dwellings.
    By the term family is meant either one person living separately in a house or part of
    a house and providing for himself or herself, or any number of individuals living
    together and provided for by a common head.

    Resident inmates of a hotel, jail, prison, hospital, poor-house, asylum, or other
    similar institution should be considered as one family.

 3. Name of Each Person

    In this column write the full name of every person in each family whose home on the
    first day of January 1885, was properly with such family, whether present or
    temporarily absent, either on business or for recreation, or in the service of the
    county, state, or nation.

    If any member of the family then away from home was at any of the state institutions
    in any capacity whatever, the name of such person need not be inserted, as it will be
    obtained direct from the particular institution, with full data. If, however, it
    should be inserted here by the assessor the actual whereabouts of the person thus
    enumerated should be noted in the "remarks."

    If any member of the family has died since January 1, he should nevertheless be here
    entered and described the same as if living at the time of actual enumeration; while
    no child born after January 1 is to be included.

    The first name to be entered is that of the father if living, next that of the mother
    if living. If both of these be dead or not living with the family the name of
    whomsoever is considered the head of such family is first to be inserted.

    The names of the children should then follow in order of age; then the names of other
    relations; then those of lodgers, laborers, and domestics.

    If any lodgers, domestics, or others are only temporarily staying with a family they
    should be enumerated where they consider their homes to be, respectively.

    Persons only casually present in the state, traveling or engaged in transient
    business, attending school, or stationed on official duty in the service of the
    United States, are not to be enumerated. So with persons away from home in the
    service of the state or any county, who are to be enumerated where they claim a

    If any elector claims and exercises the right to vote at any place other than what
    appears to be his "usual place of abode" he, his wife and children, and any
    dependent persons whose home is usually with him are to be enumerated at such place
    of voting.

    Commercial travelers, railroad employees, and others engaged in like occupations, are
    to be enumerated where they claim residence.

    "Tramps" and other homeless persons are to be enumerated, as closely as may be, in
    the township, town, or ward where they were on the first day of January and not

 4. Residence

    Street and number, or other accurate designation, if in town plat, smallest legal
    subdivision, if in country: township, range and section.

    Inquiries must be made at all stores, shops, eating-houses, and similar places, and
    the names of persons usually lodging thereat taken, unless such person is elsewhere
    properly enumerated.

    But stores, etc., where persons lodge for protection of property or otherwise and not
    otherwise used as dwelling-houses, are not to be counted as such; neither are persons
    so lodging to be enumerated as in any family.

    Where persons have removed since the first day of January 1885, they are to be
    enumerated where they belonged on that day.

 5. Age at birthday in 1884
 6. Sex
 7. Color
 8. Married, Single, Widowed, Divorced
 9. Profession, Employment or Occupation
10. Place of Birth, If in Iowa, what county
11. Place of Birth, If in United States, name of state or territory
12. Place of Birth, If abroad, what country
13. Nativity of Father, Native born or Foreign born
14. Nativity of Mother, Native born or Foreign born
15. Subject to military duty (Yes/No)
16. Entitled to vote (Yes/No)
17. Alien who has taken out first papers
18. Alien who has not taken out first papers
19. Cannot read or write, over 10 years old
20. Can read but not write, over 10 years old
21. Deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic
22. Remarks

---- Sample Transcript Header used for the Iowa State Census Project ----
CENSUS-YEAR: 1885    STATE: Iowa    COUNTY: Clayton    DIVISION: Buena Vista Twp    ENUMERATOR: William C. Stoddard    ENUM DATE: April 24, 1885    MICROFILM: FHL# 1021454, HQ# V221-53
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      NBR NBR                                 RESIDENCE                                          S/M                                PLACE OF BIRTH                     PARENTAGE          ALIEN         CANNOT CAN RD DF/DMB/BLND TRANSCRIBER'S
        1   2  3A             3B              4                                      5   6   7   8   9                              10       11           12           13   14   15  16   17    18      19            21