Reading occupation in 1860 US census record



Below is an excerpt from an 1860 US Census record for Wheeling, (West) Virginia.

What is the occupation listed at the bottom?

The first letter looks like an M, and the last three look like 'der'. Wheeling at this time was an industrial city and had many iron foundries and other manufacturing. I suspect this could be a specialist occupation, or just sloppy handwriting.

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Posted 2021-02-03T15:07:31.307

Reputation: 707



A Moulder is somebody who makes moulds for metal casting; it was (and is) a skilled job.

In cases like this, it can help to search for contemporary documentation on the census, such as this analysis of the results which shows that molder was an occupation recorded.


Posted 2021-02-03T15:07:31.307

Reputation: 6 063

I didn't actually need to look this up -- my sister's father in law was a sand-casting moulder. – ColeValleyGirl – 2021-02-03T15:41:48.343

I've found moulders in records I'm researching, also. – shoover – 2021-02-03T15:50:09.713

@ColeValleyGirl Perfect! Thanks for your insight. The answer to my question is 'both'- a specialist occupation and sloppy handwriting. – user5836 – 2021-02-03T15:56:23.730

@user5836 Actually, the handwriting isn't too bad, and moulder wasn't that uncommon an occupation back then. The issue was probably that you didn't know that there was such an occupation, so you couldn't recognise the word. – ColeValleyGirl – 2021-02-03T15:58:09.573

@ColeValleyGirl Re "the handwriting isn't too bad" -- To be fair, we don't know OP's age and place of origin. I'm of an age and origin such that I was taught cursive in primary school, so it was fairly straightforward for me to read "moulder," but there are places and times where cursive has been de-emphasized in school. – shoover – 2021-02-03T23:53:15.783

1@shoover I was contrasting it with handwriting I've seen in other documents, which would have been bad for their time when this wasn't. – ColeValleyGirl – 2021-02-04T06:51:09.957