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1820 Ancestry Census Records Search

Guide, Clues & Finding Aid for the 1820 U. S. Federal Census.

The 1820 census was the fourth census of the U.S. which was originally done for tax reasons and Congressional apportionment. Today, it is used by genealogists researching their early American ancestors.



Where can I find the 1820 U.S. Census?

  • Ancestor Search Transcribed U.S. Census Records Search
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    Search for U.S. census transcriptions on websites across the internet including the U.S. GenWeb Projects.

    Some of the 1820 census has been transcribed and placed on the internet.

    Search by name, county, state and/or year.






  • Ancestry.com 1820 United States Federal Census
    All the surviving 1820 census has been digitized and indexed by Ancestry. You can view for free the only website that has all fields of the census transcribed including names, location, and numbers of family members. Ancestry also has a very strong and flexible search engine. Free transcribed index with images are available for a fee.


  • Family Search
    The Mormon genealogy site has a free index (supplied by Ancestry.com) for the 1820 census. The census images are available at family history centers for free.

  • Internet Archive
    This copy of the 1820 census microfilm can be read online or the PDF files can be downloaded. The census can be browsed page by page but it is not indexed or searchable.






Can't find someone in your census search?

Look for spelling variations of your surnames since spelling was not fixed in 1820. The census taker may have written the name on the census sheet phonetically as the name sounded to him. Not only may the name have been written incorrectly on the original census, the handwriting may have difficult to decipher when creating the index or the microfilm may have been too faded to read correctly.





What can I learn from the 1820 Census Records?

Census Date - August 7, 1820

The 1820 census lists the name of the head of household; there is just a head count for other family members by age and gender.


Census questions:

  • City or town or district or township and county of residence
  • Name of the head of each household.
  • Number (but not name) of Free White Males:
    • under 10 years old
    • age 10 and under 16
    • age 16 and under 26
    • age 26 and under 45
    • age 45 and over
  • Number (but not name) of Free White Females:
    • under 10 years old
    • age 10 and under 16
    • age 16 and under 26
    • age 26 and under 45
    • age 45 and over
  • Number (but not name) of foreigners not naturalized
  • Number (but not name) of persons engaged in agriculture
  • Number (but not name) of persons engaged in commerce
  • Number (but not name) of persons engaged in manufacture
  • Number (but not name) of male slaves
    • under 14
    • age 14-26
    • age 26-45
    • age 45 and up
  • Number (but not name) of female slaves
    • under 14
    • age 14-26
    • age 26-45
    • age 45 and up
  • Number (but not name) of free male colored (black) persons
    • under 14
    • age 14-26
    • age 26-45
    • age 45 and up
  • Number (but not name) of free female colored (black) persons
    • under 14
    • age 14-26
    • age 26-45
    • age 45 and up
  • Number (but not name) of all other persons except Indians not taxed





Download blank census form




How can you use the 1820 Census?



  • You can identify immediate neighbors who may be related.
  • You can identify number of people living in household.
  • You can browse to find spelling variations of your surname to help you find additional records.
  • You can use the location to look for churches, cemeteries, courthouses, and other places where your ancestor may have left records.
  • You can identify slaveholders
  • You can identify slaves in age group by owner name
  • You can identify free men of color listed as head of household
  • You can use the naturalization column to determine length of residency in US to then help find naturalization papers




What states are in the 1820 Census?

The 1820 census enumerated almost ten million people. The surviving states are Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.


The states of Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia have been destroyed





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