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 1830 Census

(c) Linda Haas Davenport (Updated 2007)

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As with the prior censuses (1790-1820) the census was under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Courts and the U.S. Marshals. Heads of household were the only individuals listed by name. All others in the household were only counted. However, a fundamental change was made for the 1830 census. Prior to the 1830 census Congress had asked that all copies of the census schedules for 1790-1820 be forwarded to Washington. The results were dismal with many states not complying with the request, or responding that the census records were lost, etc. As a result of this prior to the 1830 census Congress authorized the 1830 Census schedules be prepared with an original and one copy (however Congress didn't authorize any extra funds for these copies). Congress directed that one set be kept in the U.S. District Court clerk's office and the other to be sent to Washington. It was up to the court clerk whether the original or the copy was sent to Washington. Where the copies are today that were to be retained by the court clerks is anyone's guess. Perhaps the U.S. Marshal simply didn't want to make a copy or they were thrown out to make room for other papers? No one will ever know.

The census schedules (original or copy) that arrived in Washington were transferred to the National Archives and those are the ones that we now see on microfilm today. You can sometimes tell if you are reading a copy or an original by looking at the handwriting of the enumerator. If the handwriting is the same when boundary lines are crossed (cities, towns, counties, etc.) then you're probably reading a copy. If the handwriting changes when the boundary changes you are most likely reading the original. Remember, when copies are made errors will creep in. You're lucky if you are reading the original schedules.

The change in the 1830 census act went much farther than just requiring two copies of the census schedules. It is the first census where the government furnished pre-printed forms; it eliminated the posting of two copies of the census schedules; it greatly expanded the age categories - 5 year intervals from birth to 20 years and 10 year intervals from 20 to 100.; it expanded the age categories for slaves and free people of color. But, probably the most significant change had to do with the gathering of social statistical information and using the census to gather specific information.

The statisticians had managed to convince Congress in 1810 to add questions about how many people engaged in manufacturing. In 1820 that was expanded to include farming, mining and other occupations. This one not only includes manufacturing but, for the first time, social questions. The questions of how many people (white, slaves and free people of color) were blind or deaf began a trend that increased over time.

This census also gathered information for a specific purpose. The 1820 census was concerned with men of military service age and this one is concerned with school age children. One of the reasons the age categories for under 20 were broken down by 5 year increments was because the government wanted to find out how many school age children there were in the U.S. After this census' statistics were tabulated the government started requiring that each state and county set aside a certain amount of land to be reserved for the building of schools. The amount of land to be set aside was calculated based on this census.

Example of page 1 - 1830 Census schedule

Example of left page of 1830 census schedule 

Example of page 2

Example of right page of 1830 census schedule

As you can see from the above examples the 1830 Census schedules spanned two pages. The typed captions above the age columns reads - Of xxx and under xxx. (example: Of twenty and under thirty). However the next row listed the ages like this - 20 to 30, 30 to 40). Schedules were broken down by: Name of County, City, Ward, Township, Parish, Precinct, Hundred, or District. Head of Family. Free white males and then Free White Females, both broken down by the same age categories: Under 5, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, 80-89, 90-99 and over 100. The first page stops at Females over 100. The 2nd page begins with Slaves: (Males & Females age breakdowns are the same): Under 10, 10-23, 24-35, 36-50, 51-99, 100 & over. The next section is for Free Colored Persons with the same age categories as the slaves for both Male and Female. All persons in the household are totaled and listed in the next column. It is the next two sections are new to the census - the collection social statistics. The heading reads: White Persons Included in the foregoing and the column headings are: Who are Deaf and Dumb, under fourteen years of age; Who are Deaf and Dumb, of the age of fourteen and under twenty-five; Who are Deaf twenty-five and upwards; Who are Blind; ALIENS - Foreigners not naturalized. The next section is for Slaves and Free Colored. The age groupings are the same as the White section with the exception that the Aliens column in not included.

Finding a family member listed as blind or deaf and dumb will lead you to search for information available for these categories, records of schools, institutions, etc. A listing for an alien should lead to a search for naturalization papers, emigration information, ship passenger lists and any other documents related to naturalization or arrival in the colonies or states.

Approximate Birth Year by age category:

Age Group

Born Between

Under 5
























100 & over

1730 & before


The breakdown of the age categories will now help you to determine if the family you are looking at is actually your family. Remember that this census doesn't distinguish between family, friends, visitors, boarders, employees, servants, etc. it simply records who was in the house on 1 June 1830 or if the family couldn't remember who was in the house on June 1st - whoever was in the house on the date the census taker visited was recorded (along with the family).

The 1830 Census was the census that moved the Enumeration Date from August to June. The Enumeration Date was 1 June 1830 with 12 months allowed for completion. The first family would have been recorded on 1 June 1830 and the last on 1 June 1831. Remember that all of the information listed was as of 1 June 1830, no matter when the census taker talked to the family.

The 5th Census of the US is recorded on 201 rolls of microfilm in National Archives publication M19. The states included are; Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Some counties are missing: Wabash Co, Indiana; Montgomery Co, Prince George Co, St Mary Co, Queen Ann Co, Somerset Co Maryland; Clarendon District of SC.

All of the 1830 census has been indexed. Use the available indexes for help in locating your ancestor's surname. Use your Redbook or Handybook For Genealogist to determine when a county was formed and from which counties.

Remember that 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. Some acquired land in the 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.

By 1830 it is no longer feasible to list all families with your surname in a state. But, do list all the families with your surname found in the county you believe your family to be in and also the families with that surname from the surrounding counties. Compare these families with the prior censuses you have researched, matching names and age groupings to track families. And, as with all censuses from 1790 through this one, use the head of household's name and the age groupings to sort families using tax records, wills, land records, court records, etc.

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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 fourth; Acts of the twenty-first Congress of the United States; Statute 1; 1829-1830;March 23, 1830; Chap. XL. Pg 383-388;An Act providing for the fifth Census or enumeration of the Inhabitants of the United States.

(4) and; Section II: 1831-1832; Feb 3, 1831; Chap. XVII: Pg 439-440 ; An Act to amend the act of for the taking of the fifth census.

(5) and; Section II: 1831-1832; May 22, 1832, Chap XCI; Pg 516; An Act for the appointment of representatives among the several states, according to the fifth census.

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