Understanding the 1800 Census Questions

A February 28, 1800, act provided for the taking of the second census of the United States, which included the states and territories northwest of the Ohio River and Mississippi Territory. The guidelines for the 1800 enumeration followed those of the first enumeration, except that the work was to be carried on under the direction of the Secretary of State.

The enumeration was to begin, as in 1800, on the first Monday in August, and conclude in 9 calendar months. The marshals and secretaries were required to deposit the returns of their assistants, which were to be transmitted to the Secretary of State (not the President as in 1800), on or before September 1, 1801.

1800 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The 1800 census covered the following states:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Delaware
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Georgia1
  5. Indiana Territory1
  6. Kentucky1
  7. Maine
  8. Maryland
  9. Massachusetts4
  10. Mississippi Territory1
  11. New Hampshire
  12. New Jersey1
  13. New York
  14. North Carolina
  15. NorthWest Territory1
  16. Pennsylvania
  17. Rhode Island
  18. South Carolina
  19. Tennessee1
  20. Vermont
  21. Virginia

The following “district” census were lost: Georgia, Indiana Territory, Kentucky, Mississippi Territory, New Jersey, Northwest Territory and Tennessee. Unfortunately, there are no known substitutes. It is suggested that genealogists consult other records for information concerning ancestors found within these locations around 1800.

Much of Suffolk County schedules were lost, including all of Boston. The only existing census for this county are those of Hingham and Hull. Boston researchers may want to consult the 1798 US Direct Tax for Boston.

Information Found Within the 1800 Census

  • Name of Head of Household
  • Name of the county, parish, township, town, or city where the family resides
  • Number of free white males and free white females in specific age categories
  • Number of All other free persons (by sex and color) (not Native American)
  • Name of a slave owner and number of slaves owned by that person

Genealogy Strategy for the 1800 Census

The 1800 census takes up where the 1790 census, but provides a little more specific information for both the location of the family, as well as the composition of the family.

  1. Establishing the Composition of a Family
    While it does not provide names, or exact ages, the 1800 census does provide an idea of the composition of each family. In it you can find the number of members of the family, their approximate age, and their sex. By using other resources, such as vital records, wills, and land records you can establish further details on each person in the household, and compile further information like their exact name, birth, marriage and death information.
  2. Tracking the Head of Household
    The 1800 census provides the name of the head of household. This will be useful for tracking this family in future census.
  3. 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 1800 census will provide you the exact county, parish, township, town, or city where the family resided.
  4. Relatives
    It is possible to identify relatives by looking at the census for the nearest neighbors to your ancestor. However, in certain cases, the census was rewritten so that the census appears in alphabetical order2.
  5. Slave Research
    Slaves were identified by the number of such in a household. There were a total of 887,612 slaves enumerated in the 1800 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.
  6. Native American Research
    It is possible to find your Native American ancestor in the 1800 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 was.

1800 Census Forms


  1. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Revised Edition, Edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hardgreaves Luebking, 1997. Ancestry, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah.
  2. Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. Study 00003: Historical Demographic, Economic, and Social Data: U.S., 1790-1970. Anne Arbor: ICPSR.

1800 Census,

Partridge, Dennis N. United States Census Guide. Copyright 2008-2013.

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