Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Federal Census 1790 to 1930

Today we will look at the Census- a inventory of our country, this was started in England under William the Conq erour when he wanted to know how many subjects he had and what they owned.-In this country it began in the Colonial time that we might have a list of men capable of bearing arms.
I am most familiar with New York State , Assume the other states have very similiar state census depending of course on there period of being founded.
New York first census 1664 taken on authority of the Crown , I have seen reference to it but never found a copy,the rest are found in State Library Albany N.Y. the next one 1698 just list age of every male, then 1703,1712,1714, and 1723 the list was divided to show males age 0-16, and males 16 upward. then in 1731 they divided it further males 0 to 10 and 10 to 16 plus 16 upward, this was continued 1737, 1746, 1749, 1756, 1771.1776, 1782, 1786, 1795,1801, 1807, 1814,1821 now these are in various forms sometimes as tax list, often as list of voters , etc. none of them are complete but they do give us a list of males in a given area. It's always seemed like the person I was looking for was never there, but when they were it was a great help following there movement.
The states all took census between the federal ones being actually inumerated at the beginning of the time period ending with 5 [1825, 1835,1845,1855, etc these state census followed the innumerations of the Federal Census. but give us a idea were our ancestors were every 5 years.
Federal Census was taken every 10 years begining in 1790 and had the following headings
residence Name of Head of family free white males 16 years upward inc heads of family, Free white males under 16 years, free white females inc heads of family, all other free persons, slaves.
These headings and forms based upon legislation in the Act of 1 May 1790. There was a general expansion of information required with each succeeding census. by 1810 there was an attempt to take a manufacturing census which was expanded in 1810. included in this account will show some of the details as they were added.
lets group the 1800 thru 1830 together these were about the same the 1800 the innumeration started 1st Monday in August 1800, with the following age break down: usually starting with house number, Head of houshold, Males 0-10, 10-16, 16-26, 26-45, 45 up
Females 0-10, 10-16, 16-26, 26-45, 45 up
The breakdowns for 1810-1820 and 1830 was the same
In 1840 more information is required.
Males 0-5,5-10,10-15,15-20, 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50-60, 60-70, 70-80,80-90, 90-100, 100
Females same
Colored males 0-10, 10-24, 25-35, 36-55, 56-100, 100 plus
Clored Females same
Slaves Same
it then asks for number employed, Revolutionary war pensioners,White= Deaf,Dumb,Insane, Colored= Deaf, Dumb, Insane, Education
So you can see by 1840 big brother wants more data on us but this is also good for genealogy,we can make up a family group sheet showing the oldest male and female as parents and add the male and female children in age groups, then compareing this model family with previous census arrive at a very likely family all we have to do is substitute real names.
Now comes the break the states that took a 1845 census listed everyone by name, this was followed by the 1850 Federal Census which is the first of the complete index of all Americans and every census after this uses the same information but adding some new items:
1850 Federal Census page shows state,County and local [city-town-street]
1st item is the house number, item 2 is family visited this will tell you if it was single family home or a multipal family dwelling--also the house number may give clue to neighbors
the next item is the head of house then ther are 10 items Age, Sex, Color, Trade, Dollar Value,
Place of Birth, Marital state,School, unable to read, Deaf or Dumb persons dying in the year before 1 June, no children born after 1 june
The above questions were asked of every one in the family and they were all listed seperate following the head of household.
The 1860 census was the same information
The 1870 Census all the same information plus a few more items : "Race" was added and the month of birth, and if parents were foriegn born.
Some one was there trying to give us more information to help with genealogy.
The 1880 census is also a very important one for the person working on genealogy: the required information is same as 1870 but now they ask for place of birth of person listed plus the place of birth of there father and there mother. Also the relationship of each listed person to the head of the household. You can see the importance of this you find out were your subject was born and were there parents came from.
The 1890 census was burned in 1921, a very few pages survive the information was same as 1880.
1900 census again about the same as 1880 with some real helpful information Month and year of birth for each listed person, the age when married, females=number of births=how many still alive.
1910 Census same information with a couple of changes : how many years married, were was Father and mother born.
1920 Census just about same information with a few additions : Rent or Owned,Citizen ship ,year, read or write
1930 Census is the last one you can look at right now, the only additional item they ask is age when married.

So there you have the census a extremely important source for genealogy if you ancestor was not missed you can follow them from one census to the next and combined with state census do it each 5 years. Some people were missed and I have in my line a couple that were in two different census they had moved from one county to another and did not follow instructions. Keep in mind in more recent census some people did not always tell truth=women have a problem with age you will find many of them do not age 10 years between census. Be careful with spelling the names can change from one census to another=the census taker was not always the smartest person in town it was a job and the going rate was 100 names for $1.25.
No doubt there are a lot of problems with it but it's the best thing we have use it you will learn to spot problems and still be able to get somthing from it.

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