After you’ve gotten all the information you can from your relatives, census records are good source of information on your ancestors. There are several places where you can view census records. One is ancestry.com. Using ancestry requires that you have a membership to ancestry, except for the 1880 and 1940 census which are free to view. Some libraries have memberships to Ancestry and Heritage Quest. If your library has a membership, then you can view these records for free at the library.
Another source for census records is familysearch.org. These records are free to view. All you need to do is set up a free account.
Census records can also be viewed at genealogybank.com. There is a fee for membership.
The first federal census was done in 1790 and a census has been done every 10 years thereafter. Much of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire. The only records available for the 1890 census are part of Perry County, Alabama; part of the District of Columbia; Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia; Mound Township, McDonough County, Illinois; Rockford, Wright County, Minnesota; Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey; part of Westchester and Suffolk County, New York; part of Gaston and Cleveland counties in North Carolina; Cincinnati, Hamilton County and part of Clinton County, Ohio; Jefferson Township, Union County, South Dakota; and part of Ellis, Hood, Rusk, Trinity, and Kaufman counties in Texas.
When looking at census records be sure you look at all the headings or you may miss some important information. Following are blank census forms so that you can see what kind of information is available. These forms come from The National Archives and Records Administration. Please feel free to copy these forms to use in your research. You will want to keep up with the Township or City, the county, the state, the page number and the Enumeration District (ED) to use as your source for this information.
The 1790 census has the name of the head of household and ages for all free white males age 16 and up and free white males under age 16, number of females and the number of other persons and slaves. This form was not printed by the federal government so the information may vary from one ED to another.
The 1800 census has much the same information except that the ages are now divided into free white males under 10, free white males 10-15, free white males 16-25, free white males 26-44, and free white males age 45 and over. There are similar columns for the ages of free white females. The last three columns are for other persons, slaves and remarks. Only the name of the head of household is given and as with the 1790 census, this form was not preprinted by the government so information may vary from place to place.
The 1810 census uses the same form as the 1800 census. Again, only the name of the head of household is given and the form was not preprinted.
The 1820 census consists of two pages. It was not preprinted and only the name of the head of household is given. The ages of free white males are given up to age 10, ages 10-15, age 16-18, age 16-25 including heads of households, ages 26-44, and age 45 and up. Free white females are counted using the same age categories. The second page includes columns for foreigners not naturalized, persons engaged in agriculture, persons engaged in commerce, persons engaged in manufacturing, male slaves up to age 14, males slaves ages 14-25, male slaves age 26-44, male slaves age 45 and over, female slaves, free colored persons male, free colored persons female are counted using the same age brackets, and the last column is for other persons.
The 1830 census was the first to be preprinted by the government so the information should be standard for all areas. Only the head of household is listed by name. The age brackets have again been expanded to under 5, ages 5-9, ages 10-14, ages 15-19, ages 20-29, ages 30-39, ages 40-49, ages 50-59, ages 60-69, ages 70-79, ages 80-89, ages 90-99, and ages 100 and upwards. Free white persons male and females are counted on page 1. On the second page, slaves, both males and females, and free colored persons, both male and female are counted. The age brackets on this page are under 10, age 10-23, age 24-35, age 35-54, age 55-99, and age 100 and upwards. The last 9 columns are for free white persons, slaves, and colored people who are deaf or dumb under the age of 14, age 14-24, age 25 and upwards and for white persons, slaves, or colored persons who are blind.
The 1840 census is similar to the 1830 census. This is the last time that only the head of household will be listed.
The 1850 census is the first to list every member of the family. The headings for this census are name, age, sex, color, occupation, value of real estate owned, place of birth, married within the year, at school within the last year, persons over 20 years of age who cannot read and write, and the last column is deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict.
The 1850 census also has a Slave Schedule. The headings are name of slave owner, number of slaves, age, sex, color, fugitives from the state, number manumitted, deaf and dumb, blind, insane or idiotic.
In addition to population schedules, there are also non-population schedules. 1850 has an Agricultural Census.
The 1870 census has columns for names, age, sex, color, occupation, value of real estate, value of personal estate, place of birth, father foreign born, mother foreign born, if born within the year state the month, if married within the year state the month, attended school within the year, cannot read, cannot write, deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict. The last two questions are on the topic of Constitutional Relations. Special instructions to the enumerators are on the back of the census. The first question is male citizens of the U.S. of 21 years of age and upwards. And the second question is male citizens of 21 years of age and upwards where rights to vote is denied on other grounds than rebellion or other crimes. 1870 has a Mortality Schedule, an Agricultural Census, and an Industrial and Manufactures Schedule.
Any library with a genealogy department should have books by state with census records and non-population schedules. These libraries may also have census records on microfilm.
Come back next week when we will again be discussing census records.