Explore the 1850 United States census and find out more about your ancestors.
1850 US Census Date: June 1, 1850 (All reported data is “as of” this official date chosen by the census agency)
1850 Census Duration: 5 months
1850 US Census Population: 23,191,876
President During 1850 Census: Millard Fillmore (succeeded Zachary Taylor on July 9, 1850)
31 States participated. New States in 1850 census: Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, Texas and California. Participating territories: Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.
1850 Census Data: 7th United States Census
1850 was the first census in which free persons were listed individually and the first census with separate questionnaires for slaves.
It took $1,423,000, approximately 3,231 enumerators and 2,165 published reports to complete the 1850 census.
The US population increased by 35.9 percent from the 1840 census to the 1850 census.
Information requested for the 1850 Census
Number of dwelling and number of family (in order visited)
Relationship to head of household
Race - Please note that the terms used in historical records reflect attitudes and language at the time and may now be considered derogatory or offensive. This field is only available for individuals who were recorded as ‘black’, ‘negro’, or ‘mulatto’. See our search tips below for a further explanation of the descriptions found in this field.
State or country of birth
Value of real estate
Blind, deaf or dumb?
If over 20 can you read or write?
What was this person doing most of last week – Working, Keeping house or something else, and for how many hours and class of worker
Population (slave inhabitants): * Name of owner
Number of slave (slaves were assigned numbers not names
Age, Sex, Color
Blind, deaf, dumb, insane or idiotic?
Number of uncaught escaped slaves
Number of slaves freed from bondage
Supplemental questions: Additional questions were asked regarding level of education, military service, how much money was made and marriage and child birth history.
No major loss of records.
Famous people in history: Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott, born in 1832 in Germantown Pennsylvania, published more than 30 novels in an illustrious career best marked by the classic story of Little Women. Alcott wrote the semi-autobiographical novel about four sisters coming of age in just two and a half months in 1868.
Before Louisa May Alcott became a best-selling novelist, she worked as a nurse during the Civil War and studied informally with family friends Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Alcott wrote her first book Flower Fables in 1854, which helped pull her family out of financial difficulties along with many published pieces written under pseudonyms. She died in 1888 just two days after her father. Louisa May Alcott and family in Boston during the 1850 Census.
Historical Events Surrounding 1850 US Census
September 8, 1850: the Fugitive Slave Act was created providing for the return of slaves brought to free states.
February 28, 1854: The republican party was founded.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was published in 1852
Please note that the terms used in historical records reflect attitudes and language at the time and may now be considered derogatory or offensive.
Researchers may use the Race field to find those individuals identified in the transcripts as ‘black’, ‘negro’, or ‘mulatto’. Note that we have standardised the spelling of ‘mulatto’, which is spelt in various different ways in the original records. The original records contain all three of the foregoing terms and, while the distinction between black and mulatto is generally adhered to, sometimes the terms are used interchangeably – the same man may be described as mulatto and black/negro in different records.
Not all black or mulatto individuals are described as such – sometimes the records (or the transcripts) are silent in this respect. Therefore, if you find a man by searching, without a name, for the search term “mulatto”, for instance, you would then want to repeat your search under his name, removing the search term “mulatto”, to fetch all possible references to him.