1840 Census Federal Population Schedule

The The 1840 Census contains records for approximately 17 million Americans. The Sixth United States Census officially began on June 1, 1840.

Overview of the 1840 Census

The 1840 census was actually taken over a period of a year and a half, beginning on June 1, 1840. Therefore, it contains some records that were taken in that year, but also several records that were taken the following year.

There were several basic questions covered by the 1840 census that were also covered in previous censuses. For example, the 1840 censuses recorded the ages of free white males and females in the same way.

The age categories began with 5-year increments, which included 0 to 5, 5 to 10, 10 to 15 and 15 to 20.

Then they increased in 10-year increments until age 100. Finally, there was a category for anyone 100 or older. Town, district, or county of residence was also covered, as were the questions of “free colored persons,” slaves, and aliens.

Enumerators were asked to send the original or a copy to Washington.

The first family would have been recorded in June 1, 1840 and the last family in December 1, 1841. 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 June 1, 1840. 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 they arrived.

As the genealogist moves from 1840-1850, they have been able to see the actual names of family members. This is the last or the first census depending on how you view it that only the head of household is listed and members of the household are counted.

1840 United States Federal Census for Susquehanna County Pennsylvania Page1
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1840 United States Federal Census for Susquehanna County Pennsylvania Page1

Labor question

The 1840 census asked an occupation of each person. Separate were prepared for each occupation of which very view have survived.

1840 Census Facts

  • 1840 Census Number: 17,069,453
  • 1840 Census Slave Population: 2,487,355
  • 1840 Census Day: June 1, 1840
  • 1840 Census duration: 18 months
  • 1840 Census States: 26 States
  • 1840 Census Territories: 4 Territories
  • % increase of population from 1830 to 1840: 32.7%

Questions Asked in the 1840 Census

Some of the questions answered by the 1840 census included:

  • Name of head of family
  • Address
  • Number of free white males and females
    • in five-year age groups to age 20
    • in 10-year age groups from 20 to 100
    • 100 years and older
  • number of slaves and free colored persons in six age groups
  • number of deaf and dumb, by race
  • number of blind, by race
  • number of insane and idiotic in public or private charge, by race
  • number of persons in each family employed in seven classes of occupation
  • number of schools and number of scholars
  • number of white persons over 20 who could not read and write
  • number of pensioners for Revolutionary War or military service

1840 Census Birth year reference chart

Age calculated as of June 1, 1840 and does not allow for the 18 month variance.
Age Category Born Between Years
Under 5 years (0-4) 1836-1839
5 & under 10 (5-9) 1835-1829
10 & under 15 (10-14) 1830-1826
15 & under 20 (15-19) 1825-1821
20 & under 30 (20-29) 1820-1811
30 & under 40 (30-39) 1810-1801
40 & under 50 (40-49) 1800-1791
50 & under 60 (50-59) 1790-1781
60 & under 70 (60-69) 1780-1871
70 & under 80 (70-79) 1770-1761
80 & under 90 (80-89) 1760-1751
90 & over 100 (90 to 99) 1750-1759
100 & over (100+) 1740 and before

1840 Census Resources

You may find the following resources helpful in your research of the 1840 census data.

The 1840 United States Federal Census database at Ancestry.com details about 17 million individuals enumerated in the 1840 United States Federal Census, the Sixth Census of the United States.

Additionally, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1840 Federal Census, copied from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Download Free a US 1840 Census Extract Form which allows you to read column headings and record information from the US Census.

Unique Features of the 1840 Census

More Occupation Categories

The 1840 census lists more occupation categories than the 1830 census did. The new categories include:

  • navigation of the ocean
  • learned professions and mining
  • commerce
  • agriculture
  • manufacturing.

The growing population at the time meant that several people could have the same name. Therefore, the extra information about occupations can help you to clarify and differentiate between persons.

It also allows you to look in appropriate records from that time relating to that person’s professional field.

Interesting facts about the 1840 census

  • Martin Van Buren is President during census.
  • The U.S. population increased by 32.7 percent from the 1830 census to the 1840 census.
  • The 1840 census took roughly $833,000 and 1,465 enumerators to complete the 1840 census.
  • The 1840 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 1840 census was first to ask military-related question; captured name and age of Revolutionary War pensioners

Historical Considerations of the 1840 Census

Revolutionary War Pensioners

The 1840 census is the first census that mentions the Revolutionary War. It lists the names and ages of Revolutionary War pensioners. As a result, you can use that information to find a person of interest in other historical documents relating to the Revolutionary War.

Census Firsts

This was the first census in which:

  • A state recorded a population of over two million (New York)
  • A city recorded a population of over 300,000 (New York)
  • Multiple cities recorded populations of over 100,000 (New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans)

Historical events surrounding the 1840 US Census

  • March 4, 1841 - William Henry Harrison (“Old Tippacanoe”) dies. After he wins the 1840 election by defeating incumbent Martin Van Buren. Harrison is inaugurated in a lengthy outdoor ceremony on March 4, 1841 contracts pneumonia
  • 1842 - Colonel John C. Fremont leads an expedition to explore the Rocky Mountains.
  • 1845 - Ireland’s "Potato Famine" forces large numbers of Irish immigrants to come the United States.
  • 1845 - Frederick Douglass publishes Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
  • January 23, 1849 - Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to be awarded a medical degree.

10 Largest Urban Places in 1840

Rank Place Population
1 New York City, NY 312,710
2 Baltimore, MD 102,313
3 New Orleans, LA 102,193
4 Philadelphia, PA 93,665
5 Boston, MA 93,383
6 Cincinnati, OH 46,338
7 Brooklyn, NY 36,233
8 Northern Liberties District, PA 34,474
9 Albany, NY 33,721
10 Charleston, SC 29,261

U.S. 1840 Population by State

New York 2,428,921
Pennsylvania 1,724,033
Ohio 1,519,467
Virginia 1,249,764
Tennessee 829,210
Kentucky 779,828
North Carolina 753,419
Massachusetts 737,699
Georgia 691,392
Indiana 685,866
South Carolina 594,398
Alabama 590,756
Maine 501,793
Illinois 476,183
Maryland 470,019
Missouri 383,702
Mississippi 375,651
New Jersey 373,306
Louisiana 352,411
Connecticut 309,978
Vermont 291,948
New Hampshire 284,574
Michigan Territory 212,267
Rhode Island 108,830
Arkansas 97,574
Delaware 78,085
Florida Territory 54,477
Iowa Territory 43,112
District of Columbia 33,745
Wisconsin Territory 30,945

States Covered in the 1840 Census

1840 Census Map
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1840 Census Map

The 1840 Census recorded information from 26 states and 4 territories. The new states of Arkansas and Michigan were included, as well as the Iowa Territory, Wisconsin Territory, Oregon Territory and Florida Territory.

The 26 states included in the 1840 Census were AlabamaArkansasConnecticutDelawareGeorgiaIllinoisIndianaKentuckyLouisianaMaineMaryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

What was lost from the 1840 U.S. Census?

The 1840 census was the first to not experience any major loss of records.

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