United States Census, 1790 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States Census, 1790
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United States
United States flag.png
Flag of the United States of America
NARA seal300.jpg
Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Census Population Schedules
Record Group RG 29: Records of the Bureau of the Census
Collection years 1790
Microfilm Publication M637. First Census of the United States, 1790. 12 rolls.
  T498. Publications of the Bureau of the Census:1790 Census, Printed Schedules. 3 rolls.
Arrangement Alphabetical by state, by county, by city, township.
National Archives Identifier 2353521
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?

The collection consists of an index to the population schedules listing the inhabitants of the United States taken in August of 1790. This was the first national census conducted in the United States and is NARA microfilm publication M637 First Census of the United States,1790 from Record Group 29 Records of the Bureau of the Census. This index is provided by Ancestry.com. The census schedules were also published by the Government Printing Office in 1908. See related printed schedules below.

The schedules for some counties are missing in the 1790 census and no schedules are known to exist for the following states in 1790: Delaware,Georgia,Kentucky,New Jersey,Tennessee,Virginia.

Census Substitutes

  • Georgia:
  • Marie De Lamar & Elisabeth Rothstein. The Reconstructed 1790 Census of Georgia:Substitutes for Georgia's Lost 1790 Census.Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985 FHL 975.8 X2L
  • Kentucky:
  • Charles B. Heinemann.comp. First Census of Kentucky,1790. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993. FHL 976.9 X2ph 1790 census
  • New Jersey:
  • Tennessee:
  • Lucy Kate McGhee. comp. Partial Census of 1787 to 1791 of Tennessee as taken from the North Carolina Land Grants

This census (1790) provides names for heads of household, for about 10 to 15 percent of the population, and provide only a number count for the others.

Printed Schedules

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States Census, 1790.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The 1790 census includes the following information:

  • State, county and city in which census was taken
  • Name of head of household/family
  • Number of free white males 16 years and older
  • Number of free white males 16 years and under
  • Number of free white females 16 years and older
  • Number of free white females 16 years and under
  • Number of all other persons living in household
  • Number of slaves in each household

Collection Content

Sample Image

How Do I Search This Collection?

To begin your search it would be helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate age of your ancestor
  • The state where your ancestor lived

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page

  1. Select State
  2. Select County
  3. Select Township to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the age categories to determine an approximate birth date range
  • Use the residence to locate other records such as land, probate, tax, and church records
  • Continue to search the index and records to identify other relatives
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct
  • You may need to compare the information of more than one family or person to make this determination

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur
  • Consult the United States Record Finder to find other records

General Information About These Records

Federal census takers were asked to record information about every person who was in each household on the census day, which was the first Monday in August for 1790. A census taker might have visited a house on a later date, but the information he collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. The basic census enumeration unit was the county. Each county was divided into enumeration districts, one for each enumerator. The completed forms were sent to the Commerce Department’s Census Office in Washington, D.C.

Federal censuses are usually reliable, depending on the knowledge of the informant and the care of the census enumerator. Information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or by a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.

Population schedules consisted of large sheets with rows and columns. The schedules were arranged by place, such as township or post office. The places were not filed in any particular order. The arrangement of families on a schedule is normally in the order in which the enumerator visited the households. The original schedules are well preserved at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. They were microfilmed in the 1950s and 1960s. The schedules for some counties in varying censuses are missing.

Known Issues With This Collection

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For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing This Collection

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Collection Citation

"United States Census, 1790." Database and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M637. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Record Citation:
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Image Citation:
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