United States Census, 1840 (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United States Census, 1840 .
- 1 Record Description
- 2 Record Content
- 3 How to Use the Record
- 4 Known Issues with This Collection
- 5 Related Websites
- 6 Related Wiki Articles
- 7 Contributions to This Article
- 8 Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
The collection consists of an index to the population schedules listing the inhabitants of the United States in 1840. This was the sixth national census conducted since 1790. Index provided by Ancestry.com.
The 1840 censuses included the following information:
- City, County and state in which census was taken
- Name of head of household
- Number of free white males and females under the age of 5
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 5-10
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 10-15
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 15-20
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 20-30
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 30-40
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 40-50
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 50-60
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 60-70
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 70-80
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 80-90
- Number of free white males and females between the ages of 90-100
- Number of free white males and females age 100 or older
- Sometimes, the name and age of Revolutionary War pensioners
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it would be helpful to know:
- Your ancestor's name
- Some other identifying information such as where they lived or their age.
Search the Collection
To search the collection fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination.
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
Keep in mind:
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors. For example:
- 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.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- You should follow the family through each available census. Again, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. Be aware that spellings of names may change from record to record.
- It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related.
- Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records. Put the information you know into family groupings. The family groupings will help you identify related families when you discover additional information in other records.
- Married family members may have lived nearby but in a separate household so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even an entire county.
- You may be able to identify an earlier generation if elderly parents were living with or close by a married child.
- You may be able to identify a younger generation if a young married couple still lived with one of their sets of parents.
- Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the census.
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 June 1 for 1840. 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
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.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.
Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: United States Census, 1840
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation For This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org. Source citations include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- "United States Census, 1840." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing "1840 United States Federal Census." Ancestry.com. www.ancestry.com : 2010.