The 1800 US Census

Congress Hall and New Theatre in Chesnut Street Philadelphia

The 1800 United States census was the second national census for the United States. This census would include states and territories northwest of the Ohio River and Mississippi Territory. The purpose of this census, as with others, was to determine how many persons were residing in the United States. This information was used in the collection of taxes and for the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives.

You can find your ancestors listed on the 1800 U.S. census schedule by entering your ancestor’s name below.

Enumerators Instructions for the 1800 U.S. Census

The United States Constitution was ratified in 1787, and one article within that constitution required a decennial census (every 10 years) be taken. Enumerators were the Marshals and their assistants. There were some instructions, but they were few.

Understanding the enumerators or Marshal’s instructions for each census will help you better understand the information collected for your ancestor’s family. Take a look at this instruction for the 1800 U.S. census:

That every person whose usual place of abode shall be in any family on [August 4, 1800], shall be returned as of such family, and the name of every person, who shall be an inhabitant of any district or territory, but without a settled place of residence, shall be inserted in the column of the aforesaid schedule, which is allotted for the heads of families, in that division where he or she shall be on [August 4, 1800], and every person occasionally absent at the time of the enumeration, as belonging to that place in which he usually resides in the United States.”

You might be thinking that is a bit confusing! An example of this instruction in action might be you know your 16-year- old, fourth great-grandfather, was working as a surveyor apprentice in Pennsylvania the summer of 1800, yet he shows up as a tick mark in his father’s home in Maryland. In this case, he fits the category of “occasionally absent at the time of enumeration” but belongs in the “place in which he usually resides in the United States” which is in his father’s home in Maryland.

The enumerator instructions were the same for 1790–1840 with only minor changes from time to time. You can see these original instructions, here.

What was unique about the 1800 U.S. census?

The 1800 U.S. census was the first to add age brackets to the free white female columns. It also added more age categories for free white men. In the 1790 U.S. census, there were only 2 age categories for white males and white females were not divided into any age categories at all.

Screen capture of the 1800 US census for Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania

1800 U.S. Census Questions

This census asked the following questions. A tick mark or a number found in a designated column represented how many persons in the household were of that age, sex, or group.

  • State, county, parish, and town or district name
  • Head of household’s name
  • Number of free White males in these categories:
    • under 10 years of age
    • of 10 years, but under 16 years
    • of 16 years, but under 26 years
    • of 26 years, but under 45 years
    • 45 years and upward
  • Number of free White females in these categories:
    • under 10 years of age
    • of 10 years, but under 16 years
    • of 16 years, but under 26 years
    • of 26 years, but under 45 years
    • 45 years and upward
  • Number of all other free persons (these would be Free People of Color)
  • Number of slaves

1800 U.S. Census Record Loss

The 1800 U.S. census schedules survive for the following states and territories:

  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Connecticut
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Northwest Territory (some)
  • Indiana Territory
Bradley's map of the United States, exhibiting the post-roads etc from Library of Congress

Missing census schedules include Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Mississippi Territory, and large portions of the Northwest Territory. Remember, you can use other record sets, such as tax rolls and voting registrations, to place your ancestor in a specific area in the 1800s.

What was happening in the U.S. leading up to the 1800 U.S. census?

The United States was a rather new nation and was growing with each passing year. The population of the United States was approximately 3.9 million in 1790 and 5.3 million by 1800. Here is a look at some of the key events taking place between 1790 and 1800:

  • · In 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified. These first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed civil rights and liberties to American citizens, such as freedom of speech and religion.
  • In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which revolutionized the cotton industry in the U.S.
  • In 1794, an uprising of Pennsylvania farmers and distillers, later named the Whiskey Rebellion, ensued. The Whiskey Rebellion, sometimes known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was in protest of a whiskey tax enacted by the federal government.
  • On December 14, 1799, the first United States President and Revolutionary War hero, George Washington, died at his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Death of George Washington

How do I find my ancestors in the 1800 U.S. census?

At FamilySearch, you can search for your ancestors in the 1800 U.S. census by signing in to your free FamilySearch account and going directly to the 1800 U.S. census collection.

Once signed in to FamilySearch, click on Search, and from the pull-down menu, choose Records. At the next screen, near the bottom left, you will see a search field to search by collection name. In the field, type this in: United States Census, 1800

Screen capture of the main search page for the 1800 US census

Search for your ancestor by first and last name, as well as the residence. To open up additional search fields, click More Options.

Screen capture of the More Options search page for the 1800 US census

To make that distinction, look under the heading “Add Life Event,” and then click or tap Residence. Put the county and the state where you believe your ancestor was living in the residence field. You can also narrow down your results by adding a birthplace and approximate birth year. Now, at the bottom, click the yellow Search button.

If you find your ancestor in the 1800 U.S. census, you can attach it to your FamilySearch family tree. Adding records to your family tree is a way to cite your sources and help others in their family history research.


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