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 1800 Census

(c) Linda Haas Davenport (Updated 2007)

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We family historians are always moving backwards in time. For our census research we begin at the 1930 census and move back to the 1920, then to the 1910, etc. But, to really understand the federal census records and to get the most information and use from them, it's best to start with the 1790 census and move forward in time.

The same rules for taking the census that applied to the 1790 census governed the taking of the 1800 census. The U.S. District courts were still the enumeration districts and the actual count was under the authority of the district's U.S. Marshall. Once again a summary of the count, by category, was sent to the President, and the original schedules were to be retained by the Court Clerk and two copies posted for the review of the citizens.

The 1800 Census was not a lot different from the 1790 except the age groupings were expanded. The 1800 census also included a county and city designation (although not always used).

 Example of 1800 census schedule

State: ______ County _______ City ________ Call No ______

Example 1800 Census Schedule


Schedule is broken down by: Head of Household (the name of the head of the house). Free White Males: Under 10, 10-15, 16-25, 26-44, 45 & Over. Free White Females: Under 10, 10-15, 16-25, 26-44, 45 & Over. All Others, Slaves and Remarks.

Approximate Birth Year Info by category:


Born Between

Under 10








45 & over

1755 & before


The 1800 census began on  4 August 1800 with 9 months allowed for completion. The first family would have been recorded on Aug 4, 1800 and the last on May 4, 1801. Remember that the Enumeration Date of 4 Aug 1800 was the date used for the census information. Persons alive as of Aug 4th were to be counted no matter when the family was actually counted. Persons who were dead by the time the enumerator arrived but alive on Aug 4th would be listed and a child alive when the enumerator arrived but not born by Aug 4th would not be. All persons in the house on Aug 4, 1800 were to be counted (family members, visitors, boarders, laborers, extended family and slaves)

The 2nd Census of the U.S. is found on Microfilm publication #M32 on 52 rolls of microfilm and covered the following states; Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont.

Unlike the 1790 census the 1800 census was broken down by counties. By the time you reach this census you should have a well worn Redbook or Handybook for Genealogists. As with all census searches be sure to determine the time a county was formed and from which other counties.

Use available indexes in your search for ancestor's surname on the 1800 census. Once again, as with the 1790 census, list all of the head of households with the same surname within a state. Even though the population was larger, the listing, even for common names, is not excessive.

Since the 1800 census expanded the age categories and included the same age brackets for females as for males the family historian can use these groupings to help sort out families in the same area with the same name. Use the head of household name and number of people in the age groupings to follow up with tax records, wills, land records, court records, etc. to differentiate between families with the same name. Remember don't discard a family just because the numbers don't match exactly until you have exhausted all the other records. The 1800 census, like the 1790 makes no distinction between family, boarders, employees and visitors.

Remember when you are actually using the census records for your research you are moving backwards and each move backwards gives you less information. For each of the Census records of 1790-1840 take the household and subtract 10 years from the ages of all members to give you an approximate age to use in the next earlier census. Look at all families with your surname and compare ages to try to locate the household most likely to be yours. Males came of age and many moved out. Many acquired land in the same general area. Females married and left the household. As you move backwards through the census records watch for the addition of these males and the loss of females.

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1790 Census

1810 Census

Census Index

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(1) 200 Years of Census Taking: Population and Housing Questions, 1790-1990. Washington, DC: Bureau of the Census, 1989.

(2) Catalogue of 1790-1890 Federal Population Census Data Available Through the Census Microfilm Rental Program; Bureau of the Census, 1992.

(3) List of the Public Acts of Congress, Contained In volume Second; Acts of the sixth Congress of the United States; Statute I; 1799-1800; February 28, 1800; Chap. II. Pg 11-14;An Act providing for the second Census or enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States;

(4) List of the Public Acts of Congress, Contained In volume Second; Acts of the sixth Congress of the United States; Statute I ;Chap. XXIII; pg. 37; April 12, 1800; An Act to alter the form of certain oaths and affirmations directed to be taken by the act entitled "An act providing for the second census or enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States;

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