Monday, July 4, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Inputting Data on the 1840 U.S. Census

1840 U.S. Federal Census

It's that time again.  Time for another census form!  If you thought that the 1830 census was looking a bit cramped, well creating a one-page spreadsheet for the 1840 census was very challenging, but it's done and legible, even when printed.

The information is getting better.  At least we're asking for pensioners this time and asking about jobs even if it's a generalization of's something.  Also, there are questions about education and this group is broken down into various degrees/types of education which is quite nice.  Finally, we've got the old "cannot read and write" block to mark which we're all familiar with other later censuses.

The same discriminatory features still persist in that white people have more age brackets to assign members of the household which is very helpful in narrowing people down or excluding them from our branches.  Slaves and Free Colored People are treated the same as far as there are fewer brackets which gives the researcher a more general view, making things potentially more difficult to narrow down or eliminate erroneous branches in our family trees.  Again, we must take it in historical context.  That's the way of things back then.  I don't have to like it, but I can't change it.

The U.S. Census Bureau acknowledges that the 1840 census closely mirrored that of the 1830 census with some adjustments:

"No population questionnaire was prescribed by the Congress—the design of the questionnaire was left to the discretion of the Secretary of State, and closely followed that used in1830. The law did specify the inquiries to be made of each household."

You can view the "Compendium of Enumeration" as well as the "Census of Pensioners" on their webpage via a .pdf listed as Volume 3 and 4 respectively by clicking here.

On you can again watch our nation expanding, by viewing a map of the changing states' boundaries, and a timeline-history of that decade.  Sadly, the tab for "Census Questions Asked" and big blank.  Ah well!  You can't have everything!

As always, if you have any trouble viewing or downloading the spreadsheet, just comment or send me an email and I'll see what I can do to fix it.  So far there hasn't been any trouble since the very first sheet I posted.  I'll cross my fingers!

Let me know if there are any mistakes as well.  I'm sure you can imagine my eyes were starting to go crossed by the time I was done with this form!  Corrections and suggestions are always welcome!

To access the form simply click on the image at the top of the page or click on anywhere it says "1840 census."

Good luck and have fun tending those roots!