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U.S. Census Research Guide: 1790

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.

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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.

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 1790 Census

Highlights

  • 1st decennial census
  • US population: 3,929,625

Questions asked

In 1790, assistant marshals listed the name of each head of household, and asked the following questions:

  • The number of free White males aged:
    • under 16 years
    • of 16 years and upward
  • Number of free White females
  • Number of other free persons
  • Number of slaves

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

Return of the whole number of persons within the several districts of the United States.

reprint edition Main Library Government Info Census
C 3/a. 1/ 5: 1  

From the Census Bureau

From Newsbank

From Univ. of Michigan

From IPUMS

 

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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.

  • Online version: Ancestry.com (search by name, place, other characteristics) NU affiliated users ONLY.
  • Related publications:

Print Versions in the Library

Online Versions

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790: Connecticut; print; microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790: Maine

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790: Maryland

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790 : Massachusetts. Print edition; microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United states, taken in the year 1790: New Hampshire. Print edition; microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United states, taken in the year 1790: New York. Print edition; microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790, North Carolina. microfiche

From the Census Bureau

From HeritageQuest

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790. Pennsylvania. Print edition; 1908 reprint; microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790: Rhode Island. Print edition; microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790, South Carolina. Print edition; microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790: Vermont. microfiche

From the Census Bureau

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in the year 1790. Print edition :

Heads of families at the first census of the United States taken in year 1790, records of the state enumerations, 1782 to 1785 : Virginia. microfiche

From the Census Bureau

List of free Black heads of families in the first census of the United States. Print edition

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