1820 Census Index

1820 Census

The 1820 census was begun on 7 August 1820. The count was due within six months but was extended by law to allow completion within thirteen months.

Questions Asked in the 1820 Census
Name of family head; number of free white males and females in age categories 0 to 10, 10 to 16, 16 to 18, 16 to 26, 26 to 45, 45 and older; number of other free persons except Indians not taxed; number of slaves; and town or district and county of residence. Additionally, the 1820 census for the first time asked the number of free white males 16 to 18; number of persons not naturalized; number engaged in agriculture, commercial, or manufacture; number of “colored” persons (sometimes in age categories); and number of other persons except Indians.

Research Tips for the 1820 Census
The 1820 census records are useful in identifying the locality to be searched for other types of records for a named individual. The 1820 census will, in most cases, help distinguish the target family from others of the same name; help to determine family size; locate possible relatives with the same name; identify immediate neighbors who may be related; identify slaveholders; and spot spelling variations of surnames. Free men “of color” are listed as heads of household by name. Slaves appear in age groupings by name of owner. By combining those age groupings with probate inventories and tax list date, it is sometimes possible to determine names of other family members and the birth order of those individuals.

The added questions in the 1820 census break down ages so that it is possible to gauge the age of young men more accurately. However, the redundancy of asking the number of free white males “Between 16 and 18,” and “Of 16 and under 26,” “Of 26 and under 45,” “Of 45 and upwards,” is frequently cause for confusion in attempts to calculate the total number of persons in a given household. The column regarding naturalization status may be some indication of length of residency in the United States and the possibility of finding naturalization papers in a local court.

The questions asked regarding number and nature of those involved in agriculture, commercial, or manufacturing enterprises allow researchers to make some distinctions about the occupation of the head and any others in the household who were employed. Some, though admittedly not much, identifying information is available where schedules go beyond stating the number of “colored” persons and provide an age breakdown as well. The 1820 manufacturing schedules are on twenty-nine separate rolls of microfilm.

 

1810 Census Index

1810 Census

The 1810 census was begun on 6 August 1810. The count was due within nine months, but the due date was extended by law to ten months.

Questions Asked in the 1810 Census
Name of family head; number of free white males and females in age categories: 0 to 10, 10 to 16, 16 to 26, 26 to 45, 45 and older; number of other free persons except Indians not taxed; number of slaves; and town or district and county of residence.

Research Tips for the 1810 Census
The 1810 census records are useful in identifying the locality to be searched for other types of records for a named individual. The 1810 census will, in most cases, help distinguish the target family from others of the same name; help to determine family size; locate possible relatives with the same name; identify immediate neighbors who may be related; identify slaveholders; and spot spelling variations of surnames. Free men “of color” are named as heads of household. Slaves appear in age groupings by name of owner. By combining those age groupings with probate inventories and tax list data, it is sometimes possible to determine names of other family members and the birth order of those individuals. Manufacturing schedules are scattered among the 1810 population schedules.

 

1800 Census Index

1800 Census

The 1800 census was begun on 4 August 1800. The count was to be completed within nine months.

Questions Asked in the 1800 Census
Name of family head; number of free white males and females in age categories: 0 to 10, 10 to 16, 16 to 26, 26 to 45, 45 and older; number of other free persons except Indians not taxed; number of slaves; and town or district and county of residence.

Other Significant Facts about the 1800 Census
Most 1800 census entries are arranged in the order of visitation, but some have been rearranged to appear in alphabetical order by initial letter of the surname.

Research Tips for the 1800 Census
The 1800 census records are useful in identifying the locality to be searched for other types of records for a named individual. The 1800 census will, in most cases, help distinguish the target family from others of the same name; help to determine family size; locate possible relatives with the same name; identify immediate neighbors who may be related; identify slaveholders; and spot spelling variations of surnames. Free men “of color” are listed as heads of household by name. Slaves appear in age groupings by name of owner. By combining those age groupings with probate inventories and tax list data, it is sometimes possible to determine names of other family members and the birth order of those individuals.

 

1790 Census Index

1790 Census

The 1790 census was begun on 2 August 1790. The marshals were expected to finish the census within nine months of the Census Day—by 1 May 1791. Although most of the returns were in long before the deadline, Congress had to extend the count until 1 March 1792. By that time some people probably were counted who had not been born or present in 1790.

Questions Asked in the 1790 Census
Name of family head; number of free white males of sixteen years and older; number of free white males under sixteen; number of free white females; number of slaves; number of other persons; and sometimes town or district of residence.

The 1790 census instructed the marshals to identify, by age brackets, free white males sixteen years of age or older and those under sixteen. It was designed to determine the country’s industrial and military capabilities. Additionally, the first census was to count the number of free white females; all other free persons regardless of race or gender; and slaves. A twenty-dollar fine, to be split between the marshals’ assistants and the government, would be levied against anyone who refused to answer the enumerator’s questions.

Other Significant Facts about the 1790 Census
The Constitution called for a census of all “Persons . . . excluding Indians not taxed” for the purpose of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives and assessing direct federal taxes. The “Indians not taxed” were those not living in the settled areas. In later years, Native Americans everywhere were considered part of the total population, but not all were included in the apportionment figures until 1940.

The government did not provide printed forms or even paper until 1830. It was up to each assistant to copy his census return on whatever paper he could find and post it in two public places in his assigned area. Those who saw and could read them were supposed to check for discrepancies or omissions. The highest pay rate, two cents per person, barely covered expenses, especially where settlers were scattered and living in places that were difficult to find or access.

The jurisdictions of the thirteen original states stretched over an area of seventeen present-day states. Census schedules survive for only two-thirds of those states. The surviving schedules were indexed by state and published by the Bureau of the Census in the early 1900s. Bureau of the Census, Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790, 12 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1908), can be found in most research libraries; it has been reprinted by various publishers over the years.

Both the original and printed 1790 census schedules are available on microfilm for Connecticut, Maine (then part of Massachusetts), Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont. The schedules for Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Virginia were burned during the War of 1812 (there are substitutes for most of these). Published and microfilmed 1790 schedules for Virginia were reconstructed from state enumerations and tax lists.

Research Tips for the 1790 Census
Because of the availability of the printed 1790 census schedules, researchers tend to overlook the importance of consulting the original schedules, which are readily available on microfilm. As in most cases, the researcher who relies on printed transcripts may miss important information and clues found only in the original version.

The 1790 census records are useful for identifying the locality to be searched for other types of records for a named individual. The 1790 census will, in most cases, help distinguish the target family from others of the same name; identify immediate neighbors who may be related; identify slaveholders; and spot spelling variations of surnames. Free men “of color” are listed as heads of household by name. Slaves appear in age groupings by name of owner. By combining those age groupings with probate inventories and tax list data, it is sometimes possible to determine names of other family members and the birth order of those individuals.

 

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