Understanding the 1810 Census Questions

The third census, taken by the terms of an act of March 26, 1810, stipulated that the census was to be “an actual inquiry at every dwelling house, or of the head of every family within each district, and not otherwise” and commenced on the first Monday of August.

The results of the 1810 census were published in a 180 page volume. Data for the population were presented by counties and towns in the northern sections of the country (except New York, which was by counties only), and in Ohio, Kentucky, and Georgia. The returns for the southern states were limited to counties. Territories were generally returned by counties and townships.

No additional details concerning the population were collected by the census; however, an act of May 1, 1810, required marshals, secretaries, and assistants to take (under the Secretary of the Treasury), “an account of the several manufacturing establishments and manufactures within their several districts, territories, and divisions.” The marshals collected and transmitted these data to the Secretary of the Treasury at the same time as the results of the population enumeration were transmitted to the Secretary of State. No schedule was prescribed for the collection of industrial data and the nature of the inquiries were at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury.

An act of May 16, 1812, provided for the publication of a digest of manufactures containing data on the kind, quality, and value of goods manufactured, the number of establishments, and the number of machines of various kinds used in certain classes of manufactures. The report, containing incomplete returns covering these items for more than 200 kinds of goods and included several items that were principally agricultural, was published in 1813.

1810 Census Guide – Questions & Information

The 1810 census covered the following states:

  1. Connecticut
  2. Delaware
  3. District of Columbia6
  4. Georgia6
  5. Illinois Territory7
  6. Indiana Territory
  7. Kentucky
  8. Louisiana Territory5, 6
  9. Maine
  10. Maryland
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Michigan Territory6
  13. Mississippi Territory6
  14. New Hampshire
  15. New Jersey6
  16. New York
  17. North Carolina
  18. Ohio7
  19. Orleans Territory
  20. Pennsylvania
  21. Rhode Island
  22. South Carolina
  23. Tennessee6
  24. Vermont
  25. Virginia4

Schedules for some counties are missing.

  • Virginia included present day West Virginia.
  • Louisiana Territory was renamed Missouri Territory in 1812.
  • Total losses of census occurred with the District of Columbia, Georgia, New Jersey, Tennessee and the Territories of Indiana, Michigan, and Mississippi.
  • Partial losses of census occurred with the Illinois Territory and Ohio.

 Information Found Within the 1810 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
  • Name of a slave owner and number of slaves owned by that person
  • Manufacturing Data

Manufacturing data varied widely in the 1810 census. Congress though issuing the instructions to collect such data, failed to inform the marshals and their assistants as to what questions to act. Most of these schedules have been lost, except for the few that were bound with the population schedules.

Genealogy Strategy for the 1810 Census

With the census of 1810 began the compilation of manufacturing data. The area of the census expanded to an additional four states/territories. Otherwise, the census remained and looked quite similar to the prior one in 1800.

  1. Establishing the Composition of a Family
    While it does not provide names, or exact ages, the 1810 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 1810 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 1810 census will provide you the exact county, parish, township, town, or city where the family resides.
  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. Livestock
    Use any livestock information that can be mined from the census to search further using personal property records.
  6. Slave Research
    Slaves were identified by the number of such in a household. There were a total of 1,130,781 slaves enumerated in the 1810 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.
  7. Native American Research
    It is possible to find your Native American ancestor in the 1810 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.
  8. Manufacturing Data
    Very few of the special census for manufacturing survived through history. Those that did can be found in the appendix of Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Bureau of the Census, Preliminary Inventory 161

1810 Census Forms


  1. Carrol D. Wright and William C. Hunt, The History and Growth of the United States Census. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC, 1900. p.17
  2. 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.
  3. Source: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research. Study 00003: Historical Demographic, Economic, and Social Data: U.S., 1790-1970. Anne Arbor: ICPSR.

1810 Census,

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

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