Now What? Record Numbers
9/1/2007
What do census marital status abbreviations mean?

Q. In the 1910 federal census of Racine, Wis., I found the abbreviations M0, M1 and S for marital status. The M means married and the S is for single, but what do the 0 and 1 stand for?

A. According to the 1910 US census instructions, the enumerator had to ask if the person was “single, married, widowed or divorced.” (Go to <usa.ipums.org/usa> and click User's Guide to see enumerators' instructions for all the federal censuses.) He was to record an S in column eight for unmarried subjects, Wd for widowed, D for divorced and M for married. The enumerator was supposed to inquire about previous spouses and write M1 for a first marriage and M2 (married more than once) for a second or subsequent marriage.