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Every Ten Years: Key to the United States Census, 1790-1930

by Genealogy.com
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What You Can Learn from the U.S. Census
Blank census forms are a quick and easy way to figure out what you can learn from different censuses. Use these forms to record information in an organized way and make sure that you don't miss any important information.

A census is an official enumeration of the population in a particular area. In addition to counting the inhabitants of an area, the census generally collects other vital information, such as names, ages, citizenship status, and ethnic background.

The first U.S. census was taken in 1790 and set out with the specific purpose of recording a state's population. It recorded the name of the head of household and then listed the number of people who lived in the household (broken down into five specific categories). Jump ahead to the 1920 census, however, and you'll be privy to details ranging from the number of years a person had been married to whether the family home is owned or rented!

In 1790, census-takers outside of Massachusetts didn't have printed forms to fill out and, as a result, there was little continuity in the early schedules. In taking the first census, workers provided their own paper and information was submitted on paper ranging from four inches to three feet! Since that time, as you can see, both the manner and type of information collected has changed substantially. Regardless of how much or how little information each census contains, each can prove to be invaluable in painting a portrait of a family at a particular place and time.

To find out what information the U.S. government collected in a particular year, select one of the years listed below.

1790 census 1840 census 1890 census
1800 census 1850 census 1900 census
1810 census 1860 census 1910 census
1820 census 1870 census 1920 census
1830 census 1880 census  

1790 Census

The first census of the United States was taken in 1790, but one-third of that census has been lost. The schedules for these states have survived: Connecticut, Maine (then part of Massachusetts), Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont. Information should reflect living status on the first Monday in August, 1790 (Census Day).

In the 1790 census, you can find the following information:

  • Name of the head of the family
  • Number of free white males 16 years and older
  • Number of free white males under 16 years old
  • Number of free white females
  • Number of all other free persons
  • Number of slaves

Download printable abstract for the 1790 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1800 Census

The 1800 federal census schedules have survived for: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont. Information should reflect living status on the first Monday in August, 1800 (Census Day).

In the 1800 census, you can find the following information:

  • Name of the head of the family
  • Number of free white males under 10, over 10 and under 16, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and 45 or older
  • Number of free white females under 10, over 10 and under 16, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
  • Number of all other free persons
  • Number of slaves

Download printable abstract for the 1800 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1810 Census

In the 1810 census, you can find the following information:

  • Name of the head of the family
  • Number of free white males under 10, over 10 and under 16, between 16 and 18, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and 45 or older
  • Number of free white females under 10, over 10 and under 16, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
  • Number of all other free persons
  • Number of slaves

Download printable abstract for the 1810 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1820 Census

In the 1820 census, you can find the following information:

  • Name of the head of the family
  • Number of free white males under 10, over 10 and under 16, between 16 and 18, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and 45 or older
  • Number of free white females under 10, over 10 and under 16, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
  • Number of foreigners not naturalized
  • Number of persons engaged in agriculture, commerce, and manufacture
  • Number of male slaves under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
  • Number of female slaves under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
  • Number of free Black males under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
  • Number of free Black females under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
  • Number of all other individuals.

Download printable abstract for the 1820 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1830 Census

In the 1830 census, you can find the following information:

  • Name of the head of the family
  • Number of free white males under 5, over 5 and under 10, over 10 and under 15, over 15 and under 20, over 20 and under 30, over 30 and under 40, over 40 and under 50, over 50 and under 60, over 60 and under 70, over 70 and under 80, over 80 and under 90, over 90 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of free white females under 5, over 5 and under 10, over 10 and under 15, over 15 and under 20, over 20 and under 30, over 30 and under 40, over 40 and under 50, over 50 and under 60, over 60 and under 70, over 70 and under 80, over 80 and under 90, over 90 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of male slaves under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of female slaves under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of free Black males under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of free Black females under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of deaf and dumb whites under 14, over 14 and under 25, over 25
  • Number of blind whites
  • Number of deaf and dumb slaves and free Blacks under 14, over 14 and under 25, over 25
  • Number of blind slaves and free Blacks
  • Number of white foreigners not naturalized

Download printable abstract for the 1830 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1840 Census

In the 1840 census, you can find the following information:

  • Name of the head of the family
  • Number of free white males under 5, over 5 and under 10, over 10 and under 15, over 15 and under 20, over 20 and under 30, over 30 and under 40, over 40 and under 50, over 50 and under 60, over 60 and under 70, over 70 and under 80, over 80 and under 90, over 90 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of free white females under 5, over 5 and under 10, over 10 and under 15, over 15 and under 20, over 20 and under 30, over 30 and under 40, over 40 and under 50, over 50 and under 60, over 60 and under 70, over 70 and under 80, over 80 and under 90, over 90 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of male slaves under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of female slaves under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of free Black males under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of free Black females under 10, over 10 and under 24, over 24 and under 36, over 36 and under 55, over 55 and under 100, over 100
  • Number of individuals engaged in mining, agriculture, commerce, manufacturing and trades, navigation of the oceans, navigation of the lakes, canals, and rivers, learned professions and engineering
  • Number of deaf and dumb whites under 14, over 14 and under 25, over 25
  • Number of blind whites
  • Number of idiotic or insane whites
  • Number of white males over 21 who cannot read and write
  • Number of deaf and dumb slaves and free Blacks under 14, over 14 and under 25, over 25
  • Number of blind slaves and free Blacks
  • Number of idiotic or insane slaves and free Blacks
  • Number of white foreigners not naturalized
  • Names and ages of Revolutionary War pensioners

Download printable abstract for the 1840 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1850 Census

In the 1850 census you can find the following information:

  • Name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • Whether each individual was white, black, or mulatto
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each individual over 15
  • Value of the real estate owned by each individual
  • Each individual's state, territory, or country of birth
  • Whether or not an individual was married within the year
  • Whether or not an individual attended school within the year
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write, if over 20
  • Whether an individual is deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper, or a convict.

Download printable abstract for the 1850 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1860 Census

In the 1860 census you can find the following information:

  • Name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • Whether each individual was white, black, or mulatto
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each male over 15
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each female over 15
  • Value of the real estate owned by each individual
  • Value of the personal property owned by each individual
  • Each individual's state, territory, or country of birth
  • Whether or not an individual married within the year
  • Whether or not an individual attended school within the year
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write, if over 20
  • Whether an individual was deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper, or a convict

Download printable abstract for the 1860 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1870 Census

In the 1870 census you can get the following information:

  • Name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • Whether each individual was white, black, mulatto, Indian, or Chinese
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each male
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each female
  • Value of the real estate owned by each individual
  • Value of the personal property owned by each individual
  • Each individual's state, territory, or country of birth
  • Whether or not an individual's father is of foreign birth
  • Whether or not an individual's mother is of foreign birth
  • Month of birth if the individual was born within the year
  • Month of marriage if the individual was married within the year
  • Whether or not an individual attended school within the year
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write
  • Whether an individual is deaf, dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic
  • Whether or not the individual is a male citizen over 21
  • Whether or not the individual is a male citizen over 21 who cannot vote

Download printable abstract for the 1870 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1880 Census

In the 1880 census you can get the following information:

  • Street name and house number in cities
  • Name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • Whether each individual was white, black, mulatto, Indian, or Chinese
  • Month of birth if the individual was born within the year
  • Relationship of each individual to head of household
  • Whether an individual was single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Whether or not an individual was married within the year
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each male
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each female
  • Number of months an individual was unemployed during the census year
  • Whether or not an individual was sick or temporarily disabled so as not able to function normally, and if so, the nature of the illness
  • Whether an individual was blind, deaf, dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise permanently disabled
  • Whether or not an individual attended school within the year
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write
  • Each individual's state, territory, or country of birth
  • Each individual's mother's state, territory, or country of birth
  • Each individual's father's state, territory, or country of birth

Download printable abstract for the 1880 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1890 Census

Almost all of the 1890 census records were destroyed by a fire, however, from the remaining records, you can get the following information:

  • Street name and house number in cities
  • Name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • Whether each individual was white, black, mulatto, Indian, or Chinese
  • Month of birth if the individual was born within the year
  • Relationship of each individual to head of household
  • Whether an individual was single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Whether or not an individual was married within the year
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each male
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each female
  • Number of months an individual was unemployed during the census year
  • Whether or not an individual was sick or temporarily disabled so as not able to function normally, and if so, the nature of the illness
  • Whether an individual was blind, deaf, dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise permanently disabled
  • Whether or not an individual attended school within the year
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write
  • Each individual's state, territory, or country of birth
  • Each individual's mother's state, territory, or country of birth
  • Each individual's father's state, territory, or country of birth

Download printable abstract for the 1890 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1900 Census

In the 1900 census you can get the following information:
  • Street name and house number in cities
  • Name and sex of each individual in the household
  • Relationship of each individual to the head of household
  • Color or race of each individual
  • Month and year of birth of each individual, and their age at their last birthday
  • Whether an individual is single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Number of years that an individual has been married
  • Number of children born to female individuals, and the number of those children still living
  • Each individual's place of birth
  • Each individual's mother's place of birth
  • Each individual's father's place of birth
  • Individual's year of immigration to the United States
  • Number of years that an individual has resided in the United States
  • Whether or not an individual is naturalized
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each male over 10
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of each female over 10
  • Number of months in the year that the individual was not employed
  • Whether or not an individual attended school within the year
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write
  • Whether or not an individual can speak English
  • Whether or not the family owns or rents their home, whether or not the home is mortgaged, and whether it is a farm or a house

Download printable abstract for the 1900 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1910 Census

In the 1910 census you can get the following information:

  • Street name and house number in cities
  • Name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • Relationship of each individual to head of household
  • Color or race of each individual
  • Whether an individual is single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Number of years an individual has been in his or her present marriage
  • Number of children born to female individuals, and the number of those children still living
  • Each individual's place of birth
  • Each individual's mother's place of birth
  • Each individual's father's place of birth
  • Individual's year of immigration to the United States
  • Whether an individual is naturalized or an alien
  • Language each individual speaks
  • Each individual's profession, occupation, or trade
  • Industry that the individual is working in
  • Whether an individual is an employee, employer, or self-employed
  • If an individual is an employee, whether or not currently employed, and number of weeks out of work in 1909
  • Whether or not an individual attended school anytime since September, 1909
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write
  • Whether or not the family owns or rents their home, whether or not the home is mortgaged, and whether it is a farm or a house
  • Whether or not the individual is a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy
  • Whether the individual is blind, deaf, or dumb

Download printable abstract for the 1910 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


1920 Census

In the 1920 census you can get the following information:
  • Street or road name, and whether there is a house number or it is a farm
  • Name, age, and sex of each individual in the household
  • Relationship of each individual to head of household
  • Whether or not the family owns or rents their home, whether or not the home is mortgaged
  • Each individual's color or race
  • Whether an individual is single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Individual's year of immigration to the United States
  • Whether an individual is naturalized or an alien
  • If naturalized, the year of naturalization
  • Whether or not an individual attended school anytime since September, 1919
  • Whether or not an individual can read and write
  • Each individual's place of birth
  • Each individual's father's place of birth
  • Each individual's mother's place of birth
  • Each individual's mother tongue
  • Each individual's father's mother tongue
  • Each individual's mother's mother tongue
  • Whether or not each individual can speak English, and if not, language spoken
  • Profession, occupation, or trade of an individual
  • Industry an individual is working in
  • Whether an individual is an employee, employer, or self-employed
  • If an employee, whether or not currently employed, and number of weeks out of work in 1919
  • Number of years an individual has been in present marriage
  • Number of children born to female individuals, and the number of those children still living

Download printable abstract for the 1920 Census (requires free Adobe Acrobat® Reader®) and search for your family in the U.S. Census Collection online!


About the Author
This article was written by Genealogy.com staff.

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How-To Article: Making Sense of the U.S. Census
How-To Article: Every Ten Years — Secrets of the Census
Free Online LessonOnline Lesson: Your Best Ally in the Hunt — The U.S. Federal Census

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