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U.S. Census Research Guide: 1850

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts several data collection programs about the U.S. population which have their own language, geography, and data portals. This guide is based on a similar guide created by Kelly Smith at UCSD.

For more info...

Raw Data Files

These are computer files intended to be loaded into statistical software for analysis and creating your own tables. In some cases these files can be used with spreadsheet software as well.

Population Schedules

Census population schedules (or "name schedules" or "manuscript census") are copies of the original questionnaires collected during each decennial census. They list the individual names and family information of the people enumerated. Unlike the statistics published soon after the census, the population schedules remain confidential for 72 years. 1930 is the most recent population schedule available.

Contact

Need help? Use the Ask-A-Librarian reference service, or call us at (847) 491-7656, during Research Assistance Desk hours.

To consult with a government information specialist by appointment, contact govinfo@northwestern.edu

About the 1850 Census

Highlights of the 1850 Census

  • 7th decennial census
  • US population: 23,191,876
  • Illinois population:  851,470
  • First census to include California. Note: federal enumerators conducted the census in 1850. California also conducted a state census in 1852. Both results are included in the 1850 census publications. The federal census of 1850 is missing Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties. They are included in the 1852 state census.
  • First time additional "social statistics" (information about taxes, schools, crime, wages, etc) was gathered.
  • First census to use a person (rather than household) as the basic unit of enumeration.

Questions asked

Name; age; sex; race (white, black or mulatto); whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic; value of real estate; occupation; place of birth; whether married within the year; school attendance; literacy; whether a pauper or convict. Supplemental schedules for slaves; public paupers and criminals; persons who died during the year.

For more information:

Map Coverage of the 1850 Census

For more information:

Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790 - 1920

Statistics of the 1850 Census

Multi-year census compilations (compare across years): These sources tend to include statistics for large geographic areas (e.g. states), but can be very useful when comparing statistics over time.

Digitized Data Sources

Key publications:

Print available in the Library

Online access

The seventh census of the United States, 1850 : embracing a statistical view of each of the states and territories ...

 Gov Info Census C 3/a. 7/ 5: 1   (reprint)

From the Census Bureau

From Newsbank

From the GPO

Manufactures in the several states and territories for the year ending June 1, 1850; abstract of the statistics of manufactures, according to the returns of the seventh census, condensed from the digest completed under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, in conformity with the first section of the act of June 12, 1858, by Jos. C.G. Kennedy.
 Gov Info Census C 3/a. 7/ 5: 3   (reprint)

From Newsbank

Mortality statistics of the seventh census of the United States, 1850 ...

 Gov Info Census C 3/a. 7/ 5: 2   (reprint)

From the Census Bureau

From Newsbank

Report of the Superintendent of the Census for December 1, 1852
 n/a

From the Census Bureau

From the GPO

Compendium.  Statistical view of the United States, embracing its territory, population--white, free colored, and slave--moral and social condition, industry, property, and revenue...

 Gov Info Census C 3/a. 7/ 2: C73/1   (reprint)

From the Census Bureau

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