Sunday, February 3, 2013

C is for Census Dates - Family History Through the Alphabet

Maybe you're like me and can't remember the census dates? I thought having them listed all in one place would be helpful.  Maybe they will help you, too.

 United Kingdom Census Dates from U.K. The National Archives
  1801  Tue Mar 10 - head count only
  1811  Mon May 27 - headcount only
  1821  Mon May 28 - headcount only
  1831  Sun May 29 - headcount only
  1841  Sun Jun 6 - ages rounded
  1851  Sun Mar 30
  1861  Sun Apr 7
  1871  Sun Apr 2
  1881  Sun Apr 3
  1891  Sun Apr 5
  1901  Sun Mar 31
  1911  Sun Apr 2

United States of America Census Dates from The United States Census Overview
  1790  Mon Aug 2 - names of head of household only, others tallied
  1800  Mon Aug 4 - names of head of household only, others tallied
  1810  Mon Aug 6 - names of head of household only, others tallied
  1820  Mon Aug 7 - names of head of household only, others tallied
  1830  Tue Jun 1 - names of head of household only, others tallied
  1840  Mon Jun 1 - names of head of household only, others tallied
  1850  Sat Jun 1
  1860  Fri Jun 1
  1870  Wed Jun 1
  1880  Tue Jun 1
  1890  Mon Jun 2
  1900  Fri Jun 1
  1910  Fri Apr 15
  1920  Thu Jan 1
  1930  Tue Apr 1
  1940  Mon Apr 1

The census, an enumeration of a population, is often a family historian's first line of inquiry when beginning research.  We use census records to locate individuals geographically, to define who was living in a home on a specific date, and often to acquire other information, depending on the census year and what questions were on the census form. 

Imagine this scenario:  The census date is June 1 and a husband/father dies on June 2.  The census taker arrives on June 5 to enumerate the family.  Census takers' instructions told them to ask for information as of the census date even if they arrived a week later.  In this scenario, the husband/father should appear in that census because he was alive on the census date of June 1.  All census takers may not have complied with those instructions but knowing them may help explain why someone is shown as living in a particular census and you have other information that indicates he died before the census taker visited the home.

Other sources for information about the U.K. censuses include 1911, UK Census Online, and Census Helper.

Another source for information about the U. S. censuses and questions asked is 200 Years of U.S. Census Taking:  Population and Housing Questions, 1790-1990.

This post is a contribution to the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge.  Go to the link and you can see other submissions for this meme.  Alona Tester of  Genealogy and History News is the creator and keeper of this meme.  Thank you, Alona!



  1. You've brought up a good point to remember regarding the census information reflecting an "as of" date and the inconsistencies among census takers. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. You're welcome, Wendy. It's also sometimes to more closely determine a birth year (and sometimes, in later census reports) the month of birth. But of course it all depends on if the census taker follower instructions!

  2. Thanks for this handy list of census dates, Nancy. It does make a difference, even when trying to figure out ages, but especially if there was a death in the family around census time. In fact, this reminds me of a case I've been meaning to write about, so double thanks!

    1. You're doubly welcome, Shelley! Can't wait to read your post (if you post what you write).

  3. Nancy, it is very useful to have all the census dates in one place. So thank you. I recently sat in on a talk which showed a census page which the householder filled out (he lived by himself), then the census enumerator comes and finds him in died in the chair. So it's written in big red letters ont he bottom of the form that the gentleman was deceased after filling in the census form, and prior to it being collected.

    1. It's amazing to me, Alona, that the census taker would return to the home, find the man deceased, AND make a note of it in the census! I guess that helped some family historian.

  4. It is so handy having the census dates altogether, thank you.

    1. I know I'll use this page a few times as I continue to use census records. Thanks for visiting, Alona.


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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