The sixth census was governed by the same general provisions of law as in
1830. Under the provisions of an act of March 3, 1839 (and amended by an act of
February 26, 1840), the enumeration began on June 1, 1840. Marshals were to
receive two copies of the census receipts from enumerators by November 1, 1840,
one of which was to be sent to the Secretary of State by December 1, 1840.
Again, as a result of delays, the deadlines for assistants and marshals were
extended to May 1 and June 1, 1841, respectively. (The January 14, 1841 act
extending these deadlines also provided for the re-enumeration of Montgomery
County, Maryland, [due to discrepancies in the reports], to begin on June 1,
1841, and to be completed, with receipts returned, by October 1, 1841.)
No population questionnaire was prescribed by the Congress—the design of the
questionnaire was left to the discretion of the Secretary of State, and closely
followed that used in 1830. The law did specify the inquiries to be made of each
The 1840 census covered the following states:
- District of Columbia
- Florida Territory
- Iowa Territory
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Wisconsin Territory
I have not found any record of missing schedules for the 1840 census.
Found Within the 1840 Census
- Name of Head of Household
- Name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family
- Number of free white males and free white females in specific age
- Number of free other males and free other females in specific age
categories (not Native American)
- Name of a slave owner and number of slaves owned by that person
- Number of male and female slaves by age categories
- Number of foreigners (not naturalized) in a household
- Number of deaf, dumb and blind persons in the household
Strategy for the 1840 Census
With the 1840 census, genealogists are provided for the first time a look at
the ages of Revolutionary War pensioners, further family statistics into
occupation, school, illiteracy, and the number of "insane."
- Establishing the Composition of a Family
While still providing only the head of household's name, the 1840
census continues the table of ages for family members carried forth from the
1830 census. White males and females were broken down by years according to
the following table: under 5 years of age, 5 to 10, 10 to 15, 15 to 20, 20
to 30, 30 to 40, 40 to 50, 50 to 60, 60 to 70, 70 to 80, 80 to 90, 90 to
100, and 100 years and upward.
- Tracking the Head of Household
The 1840 census provides the name of the head of household. This will
be useful for tracking this family in future census.
- Location of the Household
As in all census, the location of the household at the time the
census was taken becomes a valuable tool for further research allowing you
to concentrate on records of that time period in that particular location.
The 1840 census will provide you the exact county, parish, township, town,
or city where the family resides.
It is possible to identify relatives by looking at the census for
the nearest neighbors to your ancestor.
There was no manufacturing data taken in 1840.
- Slave Research
Slaves were identified by the number and age of such in a
household. Slaves were broken down in age according to the following table:
under 10 years of age, 10 to 24, 24 to 36, 36 to 55, 55 to 100, and 100
years and upward. There were a total of 2,482,546 slaves enumerated in the
1840 census of the United States3. Researchers
who have identified a slave holder of a possible ancestor should then
consult probate or tax records for possible further identity of specific
individuals. Because there are ages given with the slaves, the genealogist
is able (with verification from additional records) to determine the birth
order in families, especially where names and sex of all members of a slave
family are known.
- Freedmen Research
Freed colored persons were identified by number and age of such in a
household. Freedmen were broken down in age according to the following
table: under 10 years of age, 10 to 24, 24 to 36, 36 to 55, 55 to 100, and
100 years and upward. There were a total of 377,757 freedmen enumerated in
the 1840 census of the United States3.
- Native American Research
It is possible to find your Native American ancestor in the 1840
census only if they were residing in an area being taxed. If this is the
case, then your ancestor would be enumerated as any other tax paying citizen
Foreigners not naturalized can assist a researcher in identifying the
approximate length of time a family may have resided in the United States.
- Revolutionary War Pensioners
This census included a special enumeration of military
pensioners. The names and ages listed were printed in A Census of
Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services; With Their Names,
Ages, Places of Residence, Washington, DC: Department of State, 1841
(reprinted by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD, in 1967) and
reproduced at the end of roll 3 in National Archives microfilm publication
T498. The manuscript has been transcribed and can be found online at: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/colonial/census/1840/.
An indication of insane within a household might point to
guardianship or institutional records.1
1840 Census Forms
- Online Census Membership Programs
- Ancestry's 1840
Census Images (requires membership $$$)
- Genealogy.com's Census Images (requires membership $$$)
- Online Census Directories
Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Revised Edition, Edited by
Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hardgreaves Luebking, 1997. Ancestry, Inc.,
Salt Lake City, Utah.
- Source: Inter-University Consortium for Political and
Social Research. Study 00003: Historical Demographic, Economic, and Social
Data: U.S., 1790-1970. Anne Arbor: ICPSR.
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