The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 294
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294 ' Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The first six Federal censuses, 1790-1840, were little more than
crude enumerations of population according to status, age, and
sex.2 The first census asked of each family, besides the name of
the head, only the numbers of free white males aged sixteen years
and above, of free white males under sixteen years, of free white
females, of all other free persons, and of slaves.3 In successive
decades the analysis by age groups was much refined, and in-
quiries were added, but the approach was not basically altered.4
The investigator may find the original returns without peer on
certain topics-name frequencies,5 or ancestors, or size of slave-
holdings-but the range of information is narrow.
2Descriptions in this article are based upon examination of most of the schedules,
and upon prolonged conning of The History and Growth of the United States
Census (Washington, 1900o; also issued as Senate Document No. 194, 56 Cong., i
Sess., Serial No. 3856), prepared by Carroll D. Wright, assisted by William C. Hunt,
for the Senate Committee on the Census. The bulk of this volume (pp. 131-910)
is an unabridged printing of nearly the whole of the schedules of inquiry, instruc-
tions, etc., for the first eleven censuses, 1790-1890. The other principal feature
(pp. 12-76) is a meticulous "Historical Review of the Federal Census." Only those
abused superlatives, "invaluable and indispensable," adequately state the relation
of the Wright and Hunt compilation to serious census study. The graphic repre'
sentation of the schedules through 1850 in J. D. B. DeBow, The Seventh Census
of the United States: 185o .. (Washington, 1853), pp. x-xii, proved useful in
the construction of Figures 1-4, but 'for ordinary purposes the work of Wright and
Hunt supersedes the descriptive matter scattered in earlier publications.
BThe original returns have been published in full by the Bureau of the Census
under title Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States, taken in
the year 179o (12 vols., Washington, 1907-1908).
4The population schedules of 1820o and 1830 called for the number of foreigners
not naturalized; the schedules of 182o and 1840 asked the numbers of persons en-
gaged in several occupations; the schedules of 183o and 1840 contained questions
about the numbers of various "defectives;" such as the deaf and dumb; and the
schedule of 1840 sought the names and ages of "pensioners for Revolutionary or
military services" (the roster thus obtained was published as a separate volume in
1841). The answers to all of these inquiries were recorded family by family. The
census of 184o also collected information about numbers of students and schools,
the data being returned in the form of district totals. The population censuses
were supplemented by imperfect attempts to collect statistics of manufacture in
181o and 1820, of manufacture and agriculture in 1840. The 18io returns of
manufacture are not with the other early census records, and presumably perished
long ago. The present writer has not had opportunity to compare the non-popu-
lation schedules of 182o and 1840 with the printed reports compiled from them.
Wright and Hunt, History and Growth of the United States Census, give the
impression that the returns of 1840 came in as district totals, which could be
exhausted in the printed reports, while the returns of 1820o dealt with each estab-
lishment separately, and therefore embrace detail not shown in the printed report.
5See Howard F. Barker, "National Stocks in the Population of the United States
as Indicated by Surnames in the Census of 1790," American Historical Association,
Annual Report, 1931, vol. I (Washington, 1932), 126-359-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/m1/388/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.