Do you know what information is in each census? The federal censuses are available for your review from 1790 through 1940. There are also some state census available. Different census will give you different information and it is worthwhile to take a look at this information. In addition to the ancestor you are researching, you may find other names on the page that are related to your ancestor. Preprinted forms were not available until 1830, so the quality of some census are poor.
The first federal census of August 2, 1790, was given to the marshals of United States judicial districts to complete. There was some lost data from Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont, but the population count was completed through secondary sources. The 1790 census will give you a city and state, and it lists men over 16 years of age, men under 16 years, free white women, all other people and the number of slaves.
On August 4, 1800, the second census collected more information. In addition to city, state, head of household, the ages are broken down better. The ages include males and females under 10 years, from 10-16, 16-26, 26-45, 45 and over and slaves. Some census were lost this year also.
On August 6, 1810 the 3rd census was complete. The city, state, head of household and all the people were listed just like 1800. Again, some census were lost. Ohio was a new state for this census.
August 7, 1820 federal census had several new states including; Louisiana, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Maine and Alabama. The head of the family name was first, then the ages were broken down differently. The ages for free white males and females include: under 10, 10-16, 16-18, 18-26, 26-45, 45 and over, male and female slaves under 14, 14-26, 26-45, then 45 and up. Free colored males and females were also counted using the same age groupings. The number of foreigners that had not been naturalized were included. People engaged in agriculture, commerce and manufacturing were counted. The last column was for all other people except Indians that were not taxed. Different colored pens were used to avoid counting people twice.
The 5th census was conducted on June 1, 1830, counting 24 states. The head of household was listed, then the ages for males and females were broken down differently. The are under 5 years, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, 20-30, then all the way to over 100 years. Other categories include:
- Number of slaves were broken down into years
- Number of deaf and dumb were counted (under 14 years, 14-24 and 25 and older)
- Number of blind
- Foreigners not naturalized were included again.
On June 4, 1840, the census was complete, and it was the first attempt at counting “insane or idiotic” people. The results showed many more black citizens being insane in non-slaveholding states, but a much lower number in states allowing slavery. Unfortunately, this caused a divide between these states as the slaveholding states used this as a reason to continue slavery. The white male and female age children age ranges were were broken down, but the adults were 20-100 years.
The slaves were broken down in age range and other categories include:
- Insane and idiotic
- The blind
- Deaf and dumb
- People in a family employed in 7 different categories
- Number of schoots and scholars
- Number of people over 20 years who could not read or write
- Number of pensioners for the Revolutionary War or military service
The 1850 census was conducted throughout the year. This was the first time women and children were listed in a census. This census included:
- color (white, black or mulatto) for each person
- whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane or idiotic
- value of real estate owned (required of all free persons)
- profession, occupation or trade of each male over 15 years of age
- place (state, territory or country) of birth
- whether married within the year
- whether attended school within the year
- whether unable to read and write (for persons over 20)
- whether a pauper or convict”
This census showed the amount of agricultural miles, manufacturing production, international trade, education and more.
The 1860 census was compiled from June to December, 1860, and the country was nearing the Civil War. This census listed families, age, sex, color, occupation or trade, value of real estate and personal wealth, place of birth, marriage if this was the marriage year, attended school, those who could not read or write, and whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict.
Information was obtained for the 1870 Feceral Census until August, 1871. This census provided information on the African-American population, only 5 years after the end of the Civil War when slaves were granted freedom. This was the last census conducted after the U.S. Marshal service. This was the first census to record the nativity of the American population.
The 1870 census included the following:
- Dwelling-houses numbered in the order of visitation
- Families numbered in the order of visitation
- Value of Real Estate
- Value of Personal Estate
- Place of Birth (State, Territory, Country)
- Father’s Birthplace
- Mother’s Birthplace
- If born within the year, state month
- If married within the year, state, month
- Attended School within the Year (Y/N)
- Cannot Read (Y/N)
- Cannot Write (Y/N)
- Deaf & dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict
- Male Citizens of U.S. of 21 years of age or upwards
- Male Citizens of U.S of 21 years of age and upwards where rights to vote is denied on grounds other than rebellion or other crime
The 1880 census had some additions to the collection of data. They also collected the parent’s birth place, marital statis, length of residence in the United States or a territory, and the place where a disease was contracted. Agriculture information was collected concerning crops and manufacturing operating hours were also collected.
The 11th U.S. census was taken beginning June 2, 1890. The data was tabulated by machine for the first time. destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, DC on 10 January 1921. The data collected included the month of marriage, if the person was temporarily disabled, maimed, crippled, bedridden or otherwise disabled, number of years in U.S. and naturalization.
The 1900 federal census added some more data. The census included the following:
- Name of each person in household, relationship to Head of Household
- Personal Description
– Age, sex, color, birthplace, occupation, month and year of birth
– Marital Status (Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced)
– Married within previous year
– Birthplace of parents
- Education – Attended school in previous year
– Ability to read and write in English
- Home Data – Value of Real Estate
- Citizenship – Number of years in U.S., naturalization, year of immigration to US
– Ability to speak English
– Name of street and number of house
The 1910 census added attended school or college, native or foreign language and a yes or no question as to employment.
In 1920 census adds age at last birthday, age at first marriage, the person’s trade or profession and type of work done. The year of immigration into the U.S., naturalization and the ability to speak English.
Some additional questions were asked on the 1930 census. They asked people if they owned a radio, value of home or rent paid and veteran information.
In 1940, the most recent census released to the public asking people if they owned a farm, the person’s age when first married, the highest grade of school completed and the income from wages and salary or other income. The balance of the census was the same as 1930.