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Research Guides

U.S. Decennial Census: 1850

Decade by decade information about how to access and use U.S. Census reports.

About the 1850 census


  • 7th decennial census
  • US population: 23,191,876
  • Oregon Territory population: 12,093
  • First time additional "social statistics" (information about taxes, schools, crime, wages, etc) was gathered.
  • First census to use a person (rather than household) as the basic unit of enumeration.

Questions asked

Name; age; sex; race (white, black or mulatto); whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic; value of real estate; occupation; place of birth; whether married within the year; school attendance; literacy; whether a pauper or convict. Supplemental schedules for slaves; public paupers and criminals; persons who died during the year.

For more information:



For more information:

  • Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790 - 1920 (GovPub Reference HA195 .T46 1987)


Original printed reports (& online equivalents)

Print Versions in the Library

Online Versions

The Seventh Census of the United States: 1850
[HA201 1850a]

From the Census Bureau

From Newsbank

From Univ. of Michigan

From the GPO

Statistics of Manufactures, 1850
[HA201 1850aa]

From Newsbank

Mortality statistics of the United States, 1850
[HA201 1850ab]

From the Census Bureau

From Newsbank

From Univ. of Michigan

Report of the Superintendent of the Census for December 1, 1852

[HA201 1850 .R47 1853a]

From the Census Bureau

From the GPO

[HA201 1850ac]

From the Census Bureau

From the GPO

Multi-year census compilations (compare across years)

These tend to include statistics for large geographic areas (eg states) but can be very useful when comparing statistics over time

See: list of all census compilations

Guides and Documentation

Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census.                       (GovPub Reference HA 37 .U55 C66 2000)
See the entry under "decennial census". Includes bibliography for each census.

See: list of all Guides and Documentation

Raw Data Files

These are computer files intended to be loaded into statistical sofware for analysis and creating your own tables. In some cases these files can be used with spreadsheet software as well.

See: list of raw data sources

Population Schedules

Census population schedules (or "name schedules" or "manuscript census") are copies of the original questionnaires collected during each decennial census. They list the individual names and family information of the people enumerated. Unlike the statistics published soon after the census, the population schedules remain confidential for 72 years. 1930 is the most recent population schedule available.


    Need help?  Call the Government Publications, Maps, Microforms & Newspapers help desk at (206) 543-4164 during desk hours.  You can also consult the Ask Us! reference service (24/7).