United States Census, 1850 (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: United State Census, 1850 .
The collection consists of an index and images of population schedules listing inhabitants of the United States in 1850. This was the seventh census conducted since 1790. Searchable data and browse are available for all states and territories.
For a list of records by localities currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
Information in the 1850 census may include the following:
- Town/township, county and state in which census was taken
- House number and family number
- Name of each person in household
- Age of each person in household (can be used to approximate birth year)
- Sex of each person in household
- Race of each person in household
- Occupation of each person
- Value of any real estate
- Birthplace of each person in household
- Whether person was married during the year
- Whether person attended school during the year
- Can person read and write
- Additional remarks
How to Use the Records
To begin your search it is helpful to know
- The name of your ancestor
- Some other identifying information such as age or residence
Search the Collection
To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.
To search the collection
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the "State" category
⇒Select the "County" category
⇒Select the "Township or other division of county" category which takes you to the images.
Search the collection by image. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.
Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person 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 wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Download a copy of the record, or extract the genealogical information needed. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. The information may also lead you to other records about your ancestors. The following examples show ways you can use the information:
- Use the estimated age to calculate a birth date.
- Use the age and residence to locate the family in church and land records.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for 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 with the same family number.
- There is also the possibility that a family was missed in the census.
General Information About These Records
The U.S. federal census was conducted each decade from 1790-present. This information pertains to censuses conducted in 1850, 1860, and 1870.
Federal census takers were asked to record information about all those who were in each household on the census day, which was 1 June. 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 Census Office in the Commerce Department in Washington D.C.
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 in Congress. In the absence of a national system of vital registration, many vital statistics and personal questions were asked to provide a statistical profile of the nation and its states.
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.
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.
|FHL Place United States items or FHL Keyword United States items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see United States Archives and Libraries.|
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.
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Contributions to This Article
|We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.|
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"United States Census, 1850," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MHVP-QJ6 : accessed 11 April 2012), Barbara Billingsly in household of Nancy Billingsly (Jennings, Fayette, Indiana, United States).
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, 1850." Index. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.
- This page was last modified on 10 November 2014, at 20:44.
- This page has been accessed 49,520 times.