1790 United States Census

Record Description

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.

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

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.

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.

The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790 to the present. This information pertains to censuses conducted in 1790.

The U.S. federal census was taken at the beginning of every decade to apportion the number of representatives that a state could send to the House of Representatives.

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.

Record Content

The 1790 census includes the following genealogical 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