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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.

Census By Decade

1790  1800  1810  1820  1830  1840  1850  1860  1870  1880  1890  1900

1910  1920  1930  1940  1950  1960  1970  1980  1990  2000  2010  2020

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.

a map of the united states in 1850

Map of coverage of the 1850 census.

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

More Information from the Census Bureau

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. Below are links to print and on-line versions of the population schedules. The library also has selected population schedules available on microfilm.


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).

1850 Census

a copy of a page with a series of names written in cursive

An excerpt from the 1850 census form from Springfield, Illinois featuring President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1861. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Guides and Documentation

Statistics: Original Printed Reports

Census statistical reports feature population and demographic data by state, county, and town for the 1850 census. UW Government Publications holdings and online access options are listed below.

Statistics: Original Reports (Online)

Census statistical reports feature population and demographic data by state, county, and town for the 1850 census. Online access options are listed below.

Statistics: Census Compilations

Raw Data Files