1880 Sickness – U.S. Federal Census – IPUMS USA

IPUMS USA stands for: Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (Census Microdata For Social And Economic Research). I found this invaluable website in 2009 when I was transcribing the names of the Willard Asylum patients from the U.S. Federal Censuses. This particular page lists the common diseases found in the United States in 1880 and was re-printed from the IPUMS USA website. I hope you will take the time to check it out for yourself. It is a wonderful resource!

IPUMS-USA is a project dedicated to collecting and distributing
United States census data. Its goals are to:

  • Collect and preserve data and documentation
  • Harmonize data
  • Disseminate the data absolutely free!

1880 Sickness on Day of Enumeration Codes

The SICKNESS variable captures the self-reported health condition which kept the individual from working on the day of enumeration. The first two digits designate the general category of illness, while the second two designate the specific illness within the category. The 1880 Census contained five other questions reporting those considered insane, idiotic, maimed, blind or deaf. These five extra categories are included in SICKNESS to capture the extra detail which was sometimes provided in these separate variables. The general categories are as follows:

Sickness Terminology

The terminology relating to sicknesses found in the census manuscripts presented a mixture of precision and vagueness. At the time the 1880 census was taken, bacteriology was a recent development. Nonetheless, many illnesses were readily identifiable through physical symptoms. Measles, for example, seem to have offered little difficulty in lay diagnostics, nor did malaria (referred to as malaria, ague, remittent fever, intermittent fever, or bilious fever) or typhoid fever (typhoid, gastric fever or enteric fever).

Other seemingly precise diagnoses were not as well defined as one might imagine. Chronic nephritis was still commonly used to describe that which caused general or localized edema. “Chronic nephritis” includes, therefore, not only those cases so specified, but also “dropsy,” “Bright’s disease,” and “gout,” besides the spelling variations relating specifically to the kidney. Rheumatism and paralysis were still used as symptomatic descriptions of conditions rather than as clinical diagnoses. The designation of “rheumatism” appears to have included any condition which prohibited free movement, such as rheumatoid arthritis, coxalgia (scrofula, or tuberculosis of the joints) and syphilis, while “paralysis” included conditions which preclude movement or the control of movement, such as traumatic injury, stroke, metabolic disorders or syphilis.

Use of the Sickness Variable

Since the intent of the sickness question was to ascertain whether individuals were prevented from carrying out their normal activities due to sickness or disability, the response rates underreport illness in the population in two ways.

First, sickness among children will be underrepresented since most children did not have jobs or obligations outside the home. The Census Office did even not include those under the age of 15 when they tabulated the sickness data. Sickness rates for young children produced from the IPUMS 1880 sample are extraordinarily low and should be treated with caution.

The second underreporting of sickness is due to the failure to include those illnesses which limit as well as those that prevent regular activities, as was done for later censuses. A difference, therefore, in morbidity rates between race categories does not necessarily indicate an absolute difference in the prevalence or incidence of disease. It could instead indicate a difference in the perception of illness, tolerance thereof, or the ability or necessity to keep on with one’s activities in spite of it.

Users should also keep in mind the limitations inherent in self-diagnosis as well as possible biases related to nineteenth-century medical terminology and the general understanding of diseases. It may be impossible, for example, to determine the true incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis in a given population because of the potential for misdiagnosis between tuberculosis and various diseases of the respiratory system, such as bronchitis.

Sickness on Day of Enumeration

01 Infectious Disease

01 01 Typhoid Fever
01 02 Typhus Fever
01 03 Malaria
01 04 Smallpox
01 05 Measles
01 06 Scarlet Fever
01 07 Whooping Cough
01 08 Diphtheria
01 09 Cholera
01 10 Dysentery
01 11 Erysipelas
01 12 Chicken Pox
01 13 Mumps
01 14 Rheumatic Fever
01 15 Fevers (not elsewhere classified)
01 16 Meningitis

02 Chronic Disease

02 01 Rickets
02 02 Tumors (not elsewhere classified)
02 03 Rheumatism
02 04 Scurvy
02 05 Diabetes
02 06 Anaemia
02 07 Alcoholism
02 08 Hydrocephalis

03 Tuberculosis

03 01 Pulmonary Tuberculosis
03 02 Potts Disease
03 03 White Swelling
03 04 Tuberculosis, other organs
03 05 Disseminated Tuberculosis

04 Venereal Disease

04 00 Venereal Disease (not elsewhere classified)
04 01 Syphilis
04 02 Gonorrhea

05 Cancer

05 01 Cancer of Stomach, Liver
05 02 Cancer of Breast
05 03 Cancer of Skin
05 04 Cancer (not elsewhere classified)

06 Diseases of the Nervous System

06 01 Migraine, Headache
06 02 Fainting, Vertigo
06 03 Locomotor Ataxia
06 04 Cerebral Hemorrhage
06 05 Paralysis
06 06 Convulsions
06 07 Chorea
06 08 Epilepsy
06 09 Neuralgia, Neuritis
06 10 Other Nervous System Disorder
06 11 Eye Disease
06 12 Ear Disease

07 Diseases of the Circulatory System

07 01 Pericarditis
07 02 Organic Heart Disease
07 04 Functional Disorders of the Heart
07 05 Disease of Arteries
07 06 Disease of Veins
07 07 Lymphatic System
07 09 Hemorrhages

08 Diseases of the Respiratory System

08 01 Influenza, Cold
08 02 Acute Bronchitis
08 03 Chronic Bronchitis
08 04 Pneumonia
08 05 Pleurisy
08 06 Pulmonary Congestion
08 07 Asthma
08 08 Other Respiratory

09 Diseases of the Digestive System

09 01 Throat
09 02 Ulcers
09 03 Dyspepsia
09 04 Other Stomach
09 05 Diarrhea, Enteritis
09 06 Colic
09 07 Hernias, Obstruction
09 08 Other Intestinal
09 09 Atrophy of Liver
09 10 Other Liver
09 11 Disease of Spleen

10 Diseases of the Genito-Urinary Tract

10 01 Chronic Nephritis
10 02 Other Kidney
10 03 Urinary Tract Calculi
10 04 Disease of Bladder
10 05 Disease of Urethra
10 08 Inflammation, Prostate Gland
10 11 Strangury

11 Conditions of the Puerperal State

11 01 Pregnancy
11 02 Childbirth
11 03 Puerperal Septicemia
11 04 Illness After Childbirth
11 05 Other Puerperal
11 06 Miscarriage

12 Illnesses Unique to Women

12 01 Menstruation
12 02 Menopause
12 03 Uterine Ailment
12 04 Other Female

13 Diseases of the Skin and Adnexa

13 01 Furuncle
13 02 Acute Abcess
13 03 Hemorrhoids
13 04 Other Skin Disease

14 Diseases of the Skeletal System

14 01 Leg, Ankle, Foot
14 02 Hip
14 03 Back or Spine
14 04 Dental
14 05 Necrosis

15 Congenital Malformation

15 01 Congenital Malformation
15 02 Merasmus
15 03 Other Congenital Conditions

16 Diseases and Debility of Old Age

16 01 Feebleness
16 02 Senility

17 General Debility

17 01 Chronic Illness (not elsewhere classified)
17 02 Poisoned

18 Ill-Defined Sicknesses

18 01 Unspecified Illness
18 02 Incomplete Information
18 03 Miscellaneous

21 Mental Disease, Insanity

21 00 Melancholy
21 01 Mania
21 02 Hysteria
21 03 Nerves
21 04 Dementia
21 05 Insane (not elsewhere classified)

22 Mental Retardation, Idiocy

22 00 Idiotic

23 Traumatic Injury, Maimed

23 00 Maimed
23 01 Burns
23 02 Gunshot Wounds
23 03 Accidents
23 04 Injury to Leg, Ankle
23 05 Injury to Hip
23 06 Injury to Arm, Hand
23 07 Injury, Ribcage
23 08 Injury to Back, Spine
23 09 Amp or Missing Limbs
23 10 Other
23 11 Other Fractures
23 12 One Eye

24 Vision Impairment, Blind

24 00 Blind

25 Aural Impairment, Deaf

25 00 Deaf

26 00 Dumb

98 00 Illegible

99 00 Not applicable

99 99 Missing”

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