The 1830 United States Census

Lithograph of a safety coach running between Washington and Baltimore, about 1830

The 1830 United States census was the first federal census that enumerators were able to use a uniform census form. The census covered 24 states and the territories of Arkansas, Michigan, and Florida. Missouri was a new state and was included in this census, as well. When the census records were bound into books in the early 1900s, some counties in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Mississippi were lost.

President John Q. Adams suggested that this census be conducted earlier in the year. In the past, the census was started in August, but harvest time may have made it hard for enumerators to collect necessary data in the nation’s heartland. The census date for the 1830 US census changed to June 1, and all answers to the questions were to be based on that date.

You can find your ancestors listed on the 1830 US census schedule by entering your ancestor’s name below.

What can I learn about my ancestors in the 1830 U.S. federal census?

This census extended the age brackets significantly for free Whites, the enslaved, and free persons of color. This is especially helpful in determining a calculated age and birth year range for our ancestors. Additionally, there were questions regarding deaf, dumb, and blind and one special question regarding persons who were foreign born and not naturalized. The unique question regarding foreign birth might alert you to search for passenger lists or naturalization records for your ancestors.

The 1830 U.S. Census asked the following questions:

1. Number of free White males and females in these age categories:

  • under 5 years
  • 5 to 10 years
  • 10 to 15 years
  • 15 to 20 years
  • 20 to 30 years
  • 30 to 40 years
  • 40 to 50 years
  • 50 to 60 years
  • 60 to 70 years
  • 70 to 80 years
  • 80 to 90 years
  • 90 to 100 years
  • 100 years and upward

2. Number of slaves and free colored persons, male and female, in these age categories:

  • under 10 years
  • 10 to 24 years
  • 24 to 36 years
  • 36 to 55 years
  • 55 to 100 years
  • 100 years and upward

3. Number of White persons and the number of slaves and colored persons who were deaf and dumb in the following age categories:

  • under 14 years
  • 14 and under 25 years
  • 25 years and upward

4. Number of White persons and slaves or colored persons who were blind.
5. Number of White persons who were foreigners not naturalized.

1830 census pages.jpg

Note that the census questions span 2 pages. You will need to click or touch the forward arrow to advance to the next page for additional information.

What was happening in the U.S. leading up to the 1830 U.S. census?

The United States was growing and expanding in the 1820s. The Land Act of 1820 directly affected land purchases of public domain lands. Previously, these lands were purchased on credit or an installment system over 4 years. When the new law was enacted in 1820, landowners were required to make a full payment at the time of their purchase. To encourage more sales, there was a need to make the land per acre more affordable. Congress reduced the minimum price per acre from $2.00 per acre to $1.25. The minimum tract of land able to be purchased was also reduced from 160 acres to 80. These changes were a catalyst for settling much of the west.

One of the most important engineering marvels in the 1820s was the Erie Canal. Though it was started in 1817, the Erie Canal opened entirely by 1825. This important waterway was said to have had over 50,000 people dependent upon it for their livelihood. The workers, the boatmen, the farmers, and the immigrants were just a few of the groups of people to use the 363 miles of canal from Albany to Buffalo.

A map of the country traversed by the Erie Canal
A map of the country traversed by the Erie Canal (from Water-ways from the Ocean to the lakes / by Thomas Curtis Clarke -- Scribners Magazine, Vol. XIX, no. 15, 1896, p. 104)

How do I find my ancestors in the 1830 U.S. census?

 At FamilySearch, you can search for your ancestors in the 1830 U.S. census by signing in to your free FamilySearch account and going directly to the 1830 U.S. census collection.

 Once signed in to FamilySearch, click on Search and from the pull-down options 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 in United States Census, 1830.

Screen shot of searching historical records

Search for your ancestor by first and last name, as well as the residence. To open up additional search fields, click More Options. To make that distinction, look under the heading “Add Life Event,” and then click or tap Residence. Put the county and the state 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, click the yellow Search button at the bottom.

Screen shot of 1830 US Census search page on

Remember to try alternate spellings if you are having difficulty finding your targeted ancestor. When you do find your ancestors on the 1830 U.S. census, be sure to attach the record to your FamilySearch family tree.



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