United States Census, 1850 - FamilySearch Historical Records
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United States Census, 1850
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|Flag of the United States of America|
|US Flag 1848-1851|
|National Archives and Records Administration Logo|
|Record Type||Population and Slave Schedules|
|Record Group||RG 29: Records of the Bureau of the Census|
|Microfilm Publication||M432. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. 1009 rolls.|
|Arrangement||Arrange alphabetically by state, and by county, by city, township.|
|National Archives Identifier||598246|
|National Archives and Records Administration|
- 1 What is in This Collection?
- 2 What Can These Records Tell Me?
- 3 Collection Content
- 4 How Do I Search This Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Known Issues
- 7 Citing This Collection
What is in This Collection?
Index and images of population schedules listing the free inhabitants of each household as of June 1, 1850. It is the first census to list each free person by name. The collection is part of Record Group 29 Records of the Bureau of the Census and is NARA microfilm publication M432. Searchable data and browse are available for all states and territories.
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.
Related Collection Coverage Tables
- United States Census Records County Copies, 1850-1880
- United States Census Records Nonpopulation Census Schedules-1820,1850-1880
Related National Archives Collections
- Records of the Receipt of Census Returns, 1850 - 1850
- Payrolls for Employees, 1850 - 1855
- List of Employees, 1850 - 1850
Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.
To Browse This Collection
|You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for United State Census, 1850.|
What Can These Records Tell Me?
The following information may be found in these records:
- 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 Do I Search This Collection?
Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:
- The name of your ancestor
- The approximate age of your ancestor
- The state and county where your ancestor lived
- The names of other relatives or associates who lived nearby
Search the IndexSearch by name on the Collection Details Page.
- Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
- Click Search to show possible matches
View the Images
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page
- Select State
- Select County
- Select Township or other division of county to view the images
|More images are available in the FamilySearch Catalog at United States Census, 1850. Some catalog records link to multiple references. In this case, click on a reference to find a camera icon to see images.|
How Do I Analyze the Results?
Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.
What Do I Do Next?
I Found the Person I was Looking For, What Now?
- Add any new information to your records
- Use the ages listed to determine approximate birth dates and find the family in additional censuses
- Use the information found in the record to find church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death records
- Use the information found in the record to find land, probate and immigration records
I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?
- If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you find possible relatives
- If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby town or county
- Try different spellings of your ancestor’s name
- Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well
- Check the info box above for additional FamilySearch websites and related websites that may assist you in finding similar records
- 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
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the United States.
Related Family History Library Holdings
- Population schedules of the seventh census of the United States, 1850
- Descriptions of census geographic subdivisions, 1850 : NA T1224
- Federal mortality census schedules and related indexes : 1850-1880
Related FamilySearch Historical Records Collections
- 1850 Mortality Schedules
- 1850 Slave Schedules
- Illinois, Non-Population Census Schedules, 1850-1880
- Iowa Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880
- Michigan Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880
- Pennsylvania Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880
Related Digital Books
- The history and growth of the United States census : prepared for the Senate Committee on the Census
- Supplement to United States census of Vermilion County, Illinois : addenda and errata
- St. Clair County, Missouri, 1850 federal census
- Census, 1850: Randolph County, Virginia
- Franklin Co., Va. census of 1850
Citing This Collection
Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.