Genealogy: 1800 U.S. federal census tutorial

1800 mashtead

By Barry J. Ewell

This is a comprehensive tutorial for researching the 1800 U.S. federal census. You will be introduced to what I have used and shared with thousands to successfully find generations of family. Begin by learning how to use the census as a foundation to effective research, identify, map, and follow family through generations.

The tutorial will expand your knowledge and skills of how to conduct an exhaustive search to find genealogical and Family History records, repositories, resolve research problems and connect with resources researching similar lines.

The tutorial is divided into the following sections:

  • 1790-1940 U.S federal census resources
  • Introduction to 1800 U.S. federal census
  • Clues and lessons learned from 1800 U.S. Federal census
  • Military service and bounty land applications
  • Defining the U.S. federal census
  • Questions asked on the 1800 U.S. Federal census

1800 resources

Click on any of the following years and you will be taken to that years’ census tutorial:


Download 1800 U.S. census research aids. Download and print the following resources to aid your census research.

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Genealogy: 1800 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 1800 U.S. Federal Population Census.

Learn more about information about age found in the census:

1800 U.S. Census birth year reference chart
In the 1800 US Population Census, learn the approximate corresponding birth years associated with the age groupings provided.  This census allowed 9 months to be completed.  The first family would have been recorded in August 4, 1800 and the last family on May 4, 1801. The age groupings were for “For Free White Males and Females.”  There are columns for all other free persons and slaves to be counted. Numbers shown in the age categories include all persons who were in  the home such  family, relatives, friends, employees, visitors, and boarders.

Note:  No matter when the census taker came, he was to record who was in the house as of August 4, 1800.  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.

Age calculated as of August 4, 1800 and does not allow for the 9 month variance.

Age CategoryBorn Between Years
10 & under (0-9)1800-1790
10 & under 16 (10-15)1790-1785
16 & under 25 (16-18)1784-1775
26 & under 45 (26-44)1774-1756
45 & up (45+)1755 and Before