United States Census, 1840 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Access the records: United States Census, 1840 .
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What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of an index and images to the population schedules listing the inhabitants of the United States taken June 1,1840. The schedules are from NARA microfilm publication M704 Sixth Census of the United States,1840 and is part of Record Group 29 Records of the Bureau of the Census. Included in this census are the names and ages of pensioners with Revolutionary War or other military service. Index provided by Ancestry.com.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for United States Census, 1840.

Collection Content

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 Do I Search the Collection?

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 by name:
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.


To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "State" category
⇒ Select the "County" category
⇒ Select the "Township or other division" category which takes you to the images.

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’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

  • 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.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

  • 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.
  • There is also the possibility that a family was missed 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

Important.png Problems with this collection?
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.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

United States Census 1840

How You Can Contribute

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 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, 1840." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing "1840 United States Federal Census." Ancestry.com. www.ancestry.com : 2010.

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, 1840.

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, 1840.