The 1820 census began on August 7, 1820 and was originally intended to be taken over a period of 6 months. However, it was legally extended to a period of 13 months.
Therefore, the census also contains some information that was recorded in 1821.
The 1820 census included similar information to that which was contained in previous censuses. That information included the number of free white females and males listed according to age groups.
It also included the number of slaves owned by the family, if applicable. However, the 1820 census was the first census to include certain new information.
The 1820 manufacturing schedules are preserved on microfilm. The twenty-nine rolls of microfilm contain information about the occupations of all of those in each household who held jobs.
Some of the schedules also list “colored persons” and, in some cases, they list the ages of the people in question.
The first family would have been recorded in August 7, 1820 and the last family on September 7, 1821. The numbers shown in the categories did not distinguish between who was family and any others who were in the household such as relatives, friends, employees, visitors, boarders, servants.
No matter when the census taker came, he was to record who was in the house as of August 7, 1820. If a child was born after this date they were not to be counted. If a person died before this date, they were not to be counted. It is very probable the census taker just recorded who was there the day he arrived.
The government in the 1820 census added questions to identify the number of people who engaged in Agriculture, Commerce and Manufacturing. This will give you clues as to the occupation of your ancestor.
Over 83 percent listed their occupation in agriculture, 3% in commerce, and 14% in manufacturing.
If the person listed that they were in manufacturing, a separate schedule was prepared that included name, location of the business, number of employees, kind and quantity of machinery, capital investment, articles manufactured, annual production and notes.
1820 Census Facts
1820 Census Number: 9,638,453
1820 Census Slave Population: 1,538,022
1820 Census Day: August 7, 1820
1820 Census duration: 13 months
1820 Census States: 23 States
1820 Census Territories: 3 Territories
% increase of population from 1810 to 1820: 33.1%
Questions Asked in the 1820 Census
Some of the questions answered by the 1820 census included:
The 1820 census was the first to list “free white males 16 to 18″ and it was the first to ask for “the number of colored persons” in a household.
The 1820 census also asked about the industries of household members, requesting a listing for all those engaged in commercial business, manufacturing, or agriculture. It was the first census to ask for “number of persons not naturalized.”
The naturalization column on the 1820 census offers some useful information. It can be used to estimate how long each listed person was a US resident.
That information can then be used to search court records from the time for copies of that person’s naturalization papers.
One of the goals of the 1820 census seemed to be to identify each young man’s age more accurately. However, some of the age categories were a bit redundant and confusing.
For example, a person might be listed in the “16 to 18″ category or in the “over 16 and under 26 category.”
This might cause some problems in accurately calculating how many people lived in each household.
Interesting facts about the 1820 census
James Monroe is President during census.
The U.S. population increased by 33.1 percent from the 1810 census to the 1820 census.
1820 census took approximately $209,000 and 1,188 enumerators to complete.
1820 Census first to capture data about alien foreigners not naturalized (by count only, not by name)
Age brackets are split into five groups. Only whites, number of slaves are recorded, and Indians that were not taxed were included.
The 1820 censuses were public meaning they were posted publicly so those included on the census could, if they could read, view and catch omissions and errors.
The 1820 censuses did not have pre printed forms for the census takers to record information. Each census taker was given sample copies and expected to copy his census return on whatever paper he could find and post it in two public places.
Historical Considerations of the 1820 Census
Slaves and Free African Americans
The “free men of color” of the time were listed if they were head of household. Slaves were listed according to the name of the slaveholder.
In either case, you might be able to determine the names of family members of the free men or slaves in question.
However, to do this you may have to compare the census information with tax lists and probate inventory lists.
10 Largest Urban Places in 1820
New York City, NY
Boston town, MA
New Orleans, LA
Northern Liberties township, PA
Southwark district, PA
Salem town, MA
Historical events surrounding the 1820 US Census
December 20, 1820 - Missouri imposes a $1 bachelor tax on unmarried men between 21 and 50.
May 3, 1820 - Missouri compromise passes, allowing slavery in Missouri.
July 10,1821 - The US takes possession of newly purchased territory of Florida from Spain.
August 4, 1821 - The Saturday Evening Post is published for the first time as a weekly newspaper.
1825 - The Erie Canal opens.
November 26, 1825 - The first college social fraternity, Kappa Alpha, is formed at Union College, Schenectady, New York.
States Covered in the 1820 Census
1820 Census Map
The 1820 Census recorded information from 23 states and 3 territories. The new states of Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine were included, as well as the Arkansas Territory, Michigan Territory and Missouri Territories.
The 1820 census records for New Jersey, Arkansas Territory, Missouri Territory were completely lost or destroyed. were lost their census records.
Partial losses include half the counties in Alabama (only the following counties exist Baldwin, Conecuh, Dallas, Franklin, Limestone, St. Clair, Shelby, and Wilcox) and the Eastern Counties (20) of Tennessee.
Although the original data is lost, there are ongoing efforts to reproduce the 1820 Census for the missing states by using local county records such as tax lists, oaths of allegiance, land entities, militia lists, petitions, road records, and other sources.
These types of records are also known as census substitutes.
U.S. 1820 Population by State
District of Columbia