Get a Horse?

A change in total number of persons practicing a particular occupation often signals the advent of a technological innovation. This is certainly true in the case of the humble blacksmith. This man shoed horses, and also created and repaired simple metal tools and objects. As the automobile became more common as a mode of transportation, and the horse less so, the need for blacksmiths should have decreased. Does the U.S. federal population census reflect this change?

The following search in the census years indicated produced the following results:

[1880] SEARCH—OCCUPATION: blacksmith 164,032
[1900] SEARCH—OCCUPATION: blacksmith 179,049
[1910] SEARCH—OCCUPATION: blacksmith 190,070
[1920] SEARCH—OCCUPATION: blacksmith 158,944
[1940] SEARCH—OCCUPATION: blacksmith 70,421

You can’t perform an Occupation search in the 1930 census, but you can do this search:

[1930] SEARCH—KEYWORD: blacksmith 109,880

As you can see, there is a dramatic decline in the number of blacksmiths during the 1910-1940 time period (when automobile usage in this country was increasing dramatically).

How can researchers access the federal population census? You may use Heritage Quest Online from home with a valid SLPL library card and PIN, or at Central Library or any of our branches.

You may use Ancestry Library Edition at Central Library or any of our branches.

Here’s a list of SLPL reference databases.

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