United States Census, 1790 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States Census, 1790 .
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United States
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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
National Archives and Records Administration

What is in the 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 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

  • Delaware:
  • Leon DeValinger. Jr. Reconstructed 1790 Census of Delaware. Washington[District of Columbia: National Genealogical Society, 1962. FHL 975.1 X2d 1790
  • Harold B Hancock. ed. The Reconstructed Delaware State Census of 1782. Wilmington,Delaware:Delaware Genealogical Society, 1983. FHL 975.1 X2r 1782
  • 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.

To Browse this Collection

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

Collection Content

Sample Image

What Can this Collection 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

How Do I Search the 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 by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in your ancestor’s name on 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.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the “State” category
⇒ Select the “County” category
⇒ Select the “Township” category which takes you to the images.

You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • 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 article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor in the census, 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.

I Found Who 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.
  • Be aware that, as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

I Can't Find Who 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.

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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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

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

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"United States Census, 1790." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing NARA microfilm publication M637. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for United States Census, 1790.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States Census, 1790.

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