Existing and lost censuses
For a list of available and missing Tennessee censuses, click here.
The following censuses for Tennessee are available:
1790 and earlier:
For the area that is now Tennessee, but was part of North Carolina until 1790:
- Fulcher, Richard C. 1770–1790 Census of the Cumberland Settlements: Davidson, Sumner and Tennessee Counties (in what is now Tennessee). Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1987. (Family History Library book 976.8 X2f.)
- McGhee, Lucy Kate. Partial Census of 1787 to 1791 of Tennessee as Taken from the North Carolina Land Grants. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1990. (Family History Library films 1728882 item 4: parts 1 and 2; 1683130 item 3: part 3).
1810–1880: All Federal censuses are available for Tennessee, with the following exceptions:
1810: Only the Rutherford County census survived.
1820: Only the censuses for Middle and West Tennessee survived. 
1850 United States Census—A free Internet index and images to the 1850 United States Census can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site. This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1850, birthplace, occupation, other family members, and neighbors.
1860 United States Census—A free Internet index and images to the 1860 United States Census can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site. This index includes every name listed on the census and is linked to an image including information about each person’s residence and age in 1860, birthplace, occupation, other family members, whether married or single, and neighbors.
1870 United States Census---A free internet index and images can be viewed on FamilySearch Record Pilot site. This index includes the full name, age, sex, race, birthplace, occupation, month if born in census year, month if married in census year, birth place of father and mother, if born in a foreign country.
1880 United States Census– A Free Internet Index and Images to the US Census can be viewed on the Family Search Record Pilot – Pilot Site. This index includes an every name index to population schedules listing inhabitants. It includes the full name, race, sex, age, birth month (if born during the previous year), relationship to head of household, whether married, single or divorced, whether married during the previous year, country or state of birth of each person and his parent’s, occupation and street address and house number.
1890: Destroyed except for the Union veterans schedule.
A reconstructed 1890 federal census index using tax lists is at the Memphis/Shelby County Public Library.
1900 Federal Census - A free Internet index and images to the 1900 United States Census can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site. Important additions to this census are month and year of birth of each household member, number of years married for each married person, number of children born to each mother and the number of those still living, year of immigration, and number of years in the United States. 1900–1930: All Federal censuses are available for Tennessee.
1940–present: Have not been released to the public.
The area now comprising Tennessee was part of North Carolina until 1790.
If possible, use online indexes first. Use other indexes if the ancestor was not found.
1810–1930: All existing federal census records for Tennessee have every name indexes online at www.ancestry.com ($$).
1810–1850; 1870; [***other years]: Indexed online at www.heritagequestonline.com.
Statewide book indexes exist for Tennessee for the following years:
1810–1840: The books index the head of each household.
1850–1890, 1910: Books usually index the first person listed in the census—usually the father or head of the house. The Indexes also include the first person by any other surname listed in the household.
County indexes: Do a Place Search for for the county in the Family History Library Catalog, and choose from selections under Census.
All years available at the Family History Library. Do a Place Search for Tennessee and choose from the Census options.
There is a SOUNDEX (phonetic) index on microfilm for part of the 1880 census and all of the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses.
The 1910 Soundex is in two parts: 1 - Cities (Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville) and 2 - The rest of the state. Search both soundexes, if not found in the one you expected.
Maps show the many boundary changes over the years. One publication that shows counties as they existed when Federal censuses were taken is:
- Thorndale and Dollarhide’s Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790–1920. Tennessee is represented on pages 314–325.
In addition to the "population schedules," the Federal government took other schedules, sometimes called "non-population schedules." These include:
Agricultural schedules: Few are at the Family History Library, with the following exception:
- Marshall County, Tennessee Agricultural schedule, 1857. Nashville, Tennessee: State Library and Archives (Family History Library film 977522). This record is arranged by districts within Marshall County and then alphabetically by surname.
Slave Holder Schedules
1850 United States Census Slave Schedules—A free Internet index and images to the 1850 United States Census Slave Schedules can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search – Pilot Site listing each slave owner's name and residence. It also shows the age, gender, and color of the slaves. Slave names are not normally listed.
Slave schedules: Taken with the 1850 and 1860 censuses, list the names of slave owners but seldom list the names of the slaves. The numbers of slaves, whether male or female, and the slaves’ age-ranges are given. Tennessee slave schedules at the Family History Library are cataloged with the population schedules.
Slaves who died during the twelve months before the 1850 and 1860 censuses were taken (30 June 1850 and 30 June 1860) are included in the mortality schedules.
Mortality Schedules (1850–1880): Mortality schedules list persons who died during the twelve months before the 1850–1880 Federal censuses were taken.
They provide the month and cause of death and the number of days ill for each deceased person, in addition to the same information provided in the regular census schedules for the living. The Tennessee State Archives has these schedules, and the Family History Library has copies:
- United States. Bureau of the Census. Federal Mortality Census Schedules and Related Indexes: Tennessee; 1850–1860
- Tennessee Mortality Schedules. Nashville, Tennessee: Byron Sistler and Associates, 1984. (Family History Library book 976.8 X2t; film 1697901 item 5.) This record covers the census years 1850–1860 and 1880 in a combined format.
1850 United States Census Mortality Schedules—A free Internet index and images to the 1850 United States Census Mortality Schedules can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search - Pilot Site. Mortality schedules provided nationwide death statistics for the twelve months prior to the 1850 census. Key genealogical facts found on the 1850 mortality schedule are: Name, age, sex, color, married or widowed, birthplace, month of death, occupation, cause of death.
Veterans Schedules (1840 and 1890): The 1840 Federal Census included a list of Revolutionary War veterans, and the 1890 census included Civil War veterans. A book with the actual 1840 census information is:
- A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Service: With Their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, as Returned by the Marshals of the Several Judicial Districts, Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census. Washington DC: Printed by Blair and Rives, 1841. (Family History Library book 973 X2pc 1840; film 1064759 item 3.)
The following indexes these veterans for all states:
- A General Index to a Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Service, 1840. Baltimore, Maryland.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1965. (Family History Library book 973 X2pc 1965 index; fiche 6046771; film 899835 items 1–2.)
For the 1890 census of Tennessee Union Army veterans of the Civil War, see:
- United States Census Office. 11th Census, 1890. Schedules Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War. National Archives Microfilm Publications, M0123. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1948 (Family History Library films 338254–57). Some Confederate veterans are included.
For an index to the 1890 veterans schedules see:
- Jackson, Ronald Vern. Tennessee 1890 Census Index. Salt Lake City, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1990. (Family History Library book 976.8 X2j 1890.)
A resource for finding Tennesseans in Texas during the 1890 Civil War Veterans census is:
- 1890 Civil War Veterans Census, Tennesseans in Texas. Evanston, Illinois: n.p., 1978. (Family History Library book 976.4 X2e 1890; fiche 6087374.)
At times the state, county, or city may have a census taken for various reasons. The Family History Library has copies of a few censuses taken in Tennessee:
- Reed, Sue S. Enumeration of Male Inhabitants of Twenty-one Years of Age and Upward, Citizens of Tennessee, January 1, 1891, as Provided for by an Act of General Assembly of Tennessee, Passed January 15, 1891, and Approved January 22, 1891. Houston, Texas: S.S. Reed, 1989. (Family History Library book 976.8 X2r 1891). Each of the eight volumes in the record is individually indexed for the counties listed. All counties not included in this work are on microfilm at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
- Memphis, Tennessee Census, 1869 (3rd Ward), 1897. Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee State Library and Archives (Family History Library film 375237 item 3: contains 1869, item 6: contains 1897).
None exist, since Tennessee was included in North Carolina until 1790 and was never a territory.
Ancestry ($$): http://www.ancestry.com
Heritage Quest Online: http://www.heritagequestonline.com
Census Online: http://www.census-online.com/links/TN/
Genealogy Today: http://dir.genealogytoday.com/usa/tn/census.html
Access Genealogy: http://www.accessgenealogy.com/census/tennessee.htm
Tennessee State Library and Archives: http://www.state.tn.us/tsla/
National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/
Mortality Schedules: http://mortalityschedules.com/
Tennessee Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.