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Schedule Spotlight: Plymouth Brethren I: 122

Caroline Greer

This Plymouth Brethen schedule included a handwritten note located on the back of the document. This note included the name of a woman who owned the house where the congregation met. With some online digging, we learn more about this woman here.

The handwritten note located on the back of the schedule. The note reads in part Hall owned individually by a sister, Lois Bowers, 2nd story above store and dwelling. Opening, gladly, for someone with truth to come and feed the little flock here; also for a work of evangelist, this being a stronghold for Universalists and the Holiness workers.'

American Rescue Workers

Greta Swain and Caroline Greer

The 41 American Rescue Workers schedules included in the 1926 U.S. Census of Religious Bodies all include an extra page detailing the organizations charity work at specific missions. By analyzing the locations and specific type of charity work done we explore how the missions met their constituents' needs. We also note how their work was so important that the organizations included information not asked for on the schedule.

A close-up image of the added sheet for the American Rescue Workers' organizations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The social work list includes lodgings, meals, garments, carfares paid for, positions secured, families supplied with milk, and medical aid.

Schedule Spotlight: Reverend Ida Bedell Manville

Caroline Greer

The schedule for Willow Grove Adventist Church in Mt. Liberty, Ohio listed the pastor as “Mrs. Ida Manville.” Using census records and other online sources, we've found out more about her life and family.

A black and white portrait of Reverend Ida Manville, a white woman. She stands while leaning her arm on a couch and is wearing a dark dress, a light-colored hat, and holding a bag in her hand. Her name is printed on the bottom of the image.

“Negro Baptists” in the U.S. Census of Religious Bodies

John Turner

The 1926 U.S. Census of Religious Bodies added “Negro Baptist” to the denomination list it used, despite it not being a name used by any African American Baptist congregation. Here we explore why this categorization was used.

Schedule from St. John's Baptist Church in Woburn, Massachusetts. The Bureau wrote 'Colored' at the top of the schedule.

Deploying DataScribe to Create a New Dataset for American Religious History

Greta Swain

American Religious Ecologies is using a new transcription module called DataScribe to create datasets from the Census of Religious Bodies.

The Datascribe dashboard when the user first logs in.

Female Pastors in the 1926 Census Schedules

Caroline Greer

A number of female pastors appear in the 1926 U.S. Census of Religious Bodies. This post seeks to explore these women and the questions we can ask and answer about women in the census.

A Schedule from the Lawrence Street Primitive Methodist Church in Lowell, Massachusetts, where Alice Haire pastored.

40,000+ Documents from Religious Bodies Census Digitized Nearly a Century Later

Lincoln Mullen

Today we are releasing the initial version of a website that makes available tens of thousands of documents from the 1926 U.S. Census of Religious Bodies. These documents are freely available to scholars, students, and local historians, who can browse or search for them by location or by religious identification.

A screenshot of the site that hosts the digitized schedules.

Video: From infrastructure to interpretation in the digital history of American religion

Lincoln Mullen

One of the historians on the project offers a behind-the-scenes look at how our team is digitizing, transcribing, visualizing, and interpreting the 1926 Census of Religious Bodies.

Slide from the presentation featuring a census schedule

How the the Religious Bodies Census was first digitized ... in the 1920s

Lincoln Mullen

Once the Census Bureau had gathered the hundreds of thousands of schedules from religious groups, it had to count them up. Markings on the census schedules let us reverse-engineer how the Census Bureau went about literally counting religion.

Photo of the Hebrew-language Census Schedule

What can you learn from a census schedule?

Lincoln Mullen

The Census Bureau spent a great deal of effort in designing the schedules, or forms, that it sent out to hundreds of thousands of congregations for the 1926 Census of Religious Bodies. Those forms were the primary expression of what the Bureau thought religion was: what about it was worth counting, and which groups counted as a religion. What can we learn from these schedules?

Photo of the Hebrew-language Census Schedule

American Jews and the U.S. Census of Religious Bodies

John Turner

The U.S. Census Bureau struggled to decide how to count Jewish Americans, experimenting with several methods of enumerating synagogue membership. Beginning in 1926, the Bureau outsourced the task to the American Jewish Committee, which reported estimates of the entire Jewish population of places rather than the membership of synagoguges and other Jewish organizations.

Photo of the Hebrew-language Census Schedule

Digitization of 230K+ Schedules Has Commenced

Greta Swain

Work is now underway to inventory, digitize, and make freely available online more than 232,000 schedules of the 1926 Census of Religious Bodies, a mostly unused collection housed at the National Archives. These documents contain important information about America’s religious life in the early twentieth century.

Photo of the National Archives

Religion and the U.S. Census

John Turner

For a century, the Census Bureau collected information about religion in the United States. Here is how the Bureau's efforts began with the 1850 decennial census, how it expanded to the Censuses of Religious Bodies, and why the religion censuses eventually came to an end in the middle of the twentieth century.

Census Bureau employees

RRCHNM to Digitize the 1926 Census of Religious Bodies

Lincoln Mullen

The National Endowment for the Humanities has generously supported the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media as it digitizes the most detailed and comprehensive potential dataset for American religious history. Read more about what the project will be doing.

A schedule from the 1926 Census