On the 1900 census, the month for line 94, Allie Tharp is not legible to me. I've compared to other readable dates on the page and cannot determine what month she is reported to have been born in, closest to my eye was Nov, but still pretty far from that. Note line 90 has the same scribble.

What month was she purported to have been born in 1878?

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  • It may be easiest to list the months it looks nothing like and see what's left.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 20, 2016 at 0:51
  • @RobertShaw Image added.
    – WilliamKF
    Nov 21, 2016 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


To my eye the two samples you have pointed out seem to read "Un" for unknown.

I suggest you look for other instances on the surrounding pages, and then look in other record groups for those individuals to see if you can determine their birth months.

Remember that in 1900 we do not have any information about who gave the information to the census taker. See Claire Prechtel-Kluskens's article Who Talked to the Census Taker? (NGS NewsMagazine, October/November/December 2005) for more background on how the census was taken, and the enumerator's instructions for the 1900 Census.

This is what they were supposed to fill out:

  1. Enter in the first division of column 7 the name or abbreviation of the month in which the persons was born, thus: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., or Dec.

  2. Endeavor to ascertain in each case the month and year of birth called for in column 7, but where this is impossible get as nearly as possible the exact years of age. An answer given in round numbers, such as "about 30," "about 45," is likely to be wrong. In such cases endeavor to get the exact age.

The enumerators didn't always follow the instructions, but knowing what they were supposed to do gives you a baseline for evaluating the edge cases.

Make a table for all the months, and compare the different versions to get a feeling for the range of variation in the handwriting. Also, don't forget to compare your mystery letter sequence to other words on the page.

  • 2
    I agree it's "Un" for "unknown". All the months appear elsewhere on the sheet, and "Nov" is the only one in this hand that has any resemblance to lines 94 and 90, but the "Nov" entries are definitely distinct. Look in the Mother's Birth column, though, and many examples of "Un" are present and a bit clearer, and match the problem entry. Not what you wanted, of course, but you get what you get.
    – RobertShaw
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:33

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