The Census: Moving Forward After Mailing It Back

A tagline for the Census this year is “We Can’t Move Forward Until You Mail It Back.” To celebrate this, I have decided to provide a little perspective, by way of the Census of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1905, of the ways we have already moved forward.

Thus, in 1905:

  • A total of 940 people responded as “Heads of Family” in South Hadley—785 men (84%) and 155 women (16%). In relation to these “Heads of Family,” 722 women labeled themselves as “wives,” but a category for “husbands” did not exist. 6 women were “matrons,” and presumably due to the College, 572 women were “students.” Interestingly, 4 women responded as being in “other relationships,” not including grandmothers, in-laws, daughters, granddaughters, guests, aunts, nieces, inmates, servants, or assistants. Also of interest, only one person listed themselves as a stepfather to the head of the family, and only 7 people were stepchildren.
  • Of the South Hadley citizens “Native Born” (3,806), 2,689 were from Massachusetts (71%), with the second largest category being from New York (8%). Of the citizens “Foreign Born,” (1,248), 352 were Canadian French (28%), 250 were Irish (20%), and 194 were from Germany (15%).
  • 4 South Hadley residents registered as “colored” and 3 as “Chinese.” The only other categories were white, Japanese, and Indian.
  • Occupations in ‘Trade and Transportation’ included: 9) draymen, hackman, teamsters, etc., 10) hostlers, and 11) hucksters and peddlers. For those as unfamiliar with some of these terms as I am, draymen drove wagons without sides (and may still be used by brewery companies for parades), and husksters are “retailers of small articles, esp. a peddler of fruits and vegetables; hawker” (
  • A section was provided for “Defective Social and Physical Condition” which included “paupers” and “feeble-minded.” Paupers were defined as “all persons from disease, accident, intemperance, misfortune, and any other cause have become dependant upon public charity” and “feeble-minded” was assumed to be obvious, since it was not defined.
  • Massachusetts held the fifth place in the production of silk and silk goods, following after New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.
  • The average salary for South Hadley was $1,517.00, which was higher than Northampton ($1,051.64), Amherst ($968.06), and Springfield ($1,261.94).
  • 34.59% of the Agricultural Products & Property in South Hadley comprised of “Dairy products,” followed by “Hay, straw and fodder” (19.48%) and “Vegetables” (12.30%).
  • Inland fisheries in South Hadley generated a $235 value—from bass, eels, perch, pickerel, pout (horned), and trout (the greatest at $150).

To find out more about statistics and data of Massachusetts in 1905, as always, please consult our archives. All the information above can be found in four volumes of the Census: I) Populations and Social Statistics, II) Occupations and Defective Conditions, III) Manufacture and Trade, and IV) Agriculture, the Fisheries, Commerce.

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