The 1820 US Census
What is the census and what type of information can I find in it?
A census is an official enumeration of the population in a particular area. In addition to counting the inhabitants of an area, the census generally collects other vital information, such as names, ages, citizenship status, and ethnic background. The United States government began collecting census data in 1790, and has done so every 10 years since that date. Selected states have also conducted their own censuses over the years.
In the 1820 census, you can find the following information:
- the name of the head of the family
- the number of free white males under 10, over 10 and under 16, between 16 and 18, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and 45 or older
- the number of free white females under 10, over 10 and under 16, over 16 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
- the number of foreigners not naturalized
- the number of persons engaged in agriculture, commerce, and manufacture
- the number of male slaves under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
- the number of female slaves under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
- the number of free Black males under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
- the number of free Black females under 14, over 14 and under 26, over 26 and under 45, and over 45
- the number of all other individuals.
Where can I find census data?
Census records are available through the National Archives and the National Archives regional branches. You can also find census records at many libraries, including the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Online you can find the 1790 federal census, as well as every US Census, on Ancestry.
To find your ancestors in these census records, sometimes you'll need to use an index. Soundex indexes are available, with some exceptions, for the years 1880 to 1920. For information about Soundex, see the topic Soundex: what it is and how to use it.
At many libraries you can also find bound and microfilmed indexes for censuses from 1870 and earlier. You can find indexes at many of the same places where you find census records. Different locations have different indexes, so check more than one library if you don't find the index that you need.