Genealogy: 1850 Census birth year reference chart

census birth yearBy Barry J. Ewell
As you track your ancestor through the U.S. Federal Population Censuses, you can use age to help you

  • Identify individual members of the family
  • Provide clues to confirm I have the right person/family unit as you search each census
  • Provide clues as to relationship in the family
  • Provide clues if I have the right female when surnames change through marriage
  • Provide clues when people use nicknames and other name variations from one census to the next

I have prepared a birth year reference chart for each census to help you identify an estimated birth year for each ancestor.  This article will focus on the 1850 U.S. Federal Population Census.

Learn more about information about age found in the census:

1850 U.S. Census birth year reference chart
In Column 4 of the 1850 US Population Census, learn the age of each member of the household.  The following chart will provide the approximate corresponding birth year for the age provided.

Age calculated as of June 1, 1850.

AgeBirth YearAgeBirth YearAgeBirth Year
May 0/121850281822671783
Apr 1/121850291821681782
Mar 2/121850301820691781
Feb 3/121850311819701780
Jan 4/121850321818711779
Dec 5/121849331817721778
Nov 6/121849341816731777
Oct 7/121849351815741776
Sep 8/121849361814751775
Aug 9/121849371813761774
Jul 10/121849381812771773
Jun 11/121849391811781772
11849401810791771
21848411809801770
31847421808811769
41846431807821768
51845441806831767
61844451805841766
71843461804851765
81842471803861764
91841481802871763
101840491801881762
111839501800891761
121838511799901760
131837521798911759
141836531797921758
151835541796931757
161834551795941756
171833561794951755
181832571793961754
191831581792971753
201830591791981752
211829601790991751
2218286117891001750
2318276217881011749
2418266317871021748
2518256417861031747
2618246517851041746
2718236617841051745

Census taker instructions for age on 1850 Census
The following are the exact instructions given to census taker (enumerator):

4. Under heading 4, entitled “Age,” insert in figures what was the specific age of each person at his or her last birthday previous to the 1st of June, opposite the name of such person. If the exact age in years can not be ascertained, insert a number which shall be the nearest approximation to it.

The age, either exact or estimated, is to be inserted.

If the person be a child under 1 year old, the entry is to be made by the fractional parts of a year, thus: one month, one-twelfth; two months, two-twelfths; three months, three-twelfths, and so on to eleven months, eleven-twelfths.