The 1850 Federal Census was the first attempt to document every living person in the United States, including slaves. The census was certified as those people living in the towns as of June 1, 1850, even though many census records were taken after that date. The only real failure in this census was the lack of noting relationships between individuals in the same household. This was corrected in subsequent census records.
There are 13 different columns denoted on the 1850 census, of which most are self explanatory. Below is a list of column headings with a brief description of each. I have transcribed the 1850 Federal Census for the village of Shrewsbury, Rutland County, Vermont. There were approximately 1,268 individuals documented in Shrewsbury for that census year.
Names of people are as transcribed to the best of my ability. I have tried to maintain the integrity of the original census record and therefore used the census spellings, which may differ from currently accepted spellings. One example is the name Juliaett which appears on the census record, but which would be spelled differently today. Surnames may also be at odds with today’s records. Hopefully those that review this document will find it of some use for genealogy and historical purposes. I will gladly answer any questions that you may have concerning my transcription. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Column 1-Dwelling # Each house visited by the census taker was numbered consecutively. If more than one family lived in the same house, each family would get its own number.
Column 2-Family # Typically each family was also numbered consecutively (though this isn’t always the case). In many instances there are multiple families residing in the same home.
Column 3-Name This would be both the surname and given name of each individual. They were typically listed in the following order (again this is not always the case. Husband, Wife, Children (by age), Parents, Brothers, Sisters, and Hired help. In this case I have divided the name column into surname and given name to promote easier searching capabilities.
Column 4-Age Denotes the age of each person in the household. Ages can be suspect at times; many people only knew how old they were because they were told by their parents. When fractions are used for ages, it denotes the age in months. Example: 5/12 is 5 months old.
Column 5-Sex Male or Female
Column 6-Color The race of each person. Usually only three choices existed, White, Black and Mulatto. If the person was white the column was left blank.
Column 7-Occupation The occupation for each male person over the age of 15.
Column 8-Value of Real Estate Owned The value of land owned by the head of household. The majority of land was owned by men; however there are a few cases where women have some land holdings.
Column 9-Place of Birth Typically the state or territory that each person was born in is listed. I used the abbreviations as taken from the census record.
Column 10-Married within the year If marked the individuals were married during the year. The census year was supposed to be from June 1, 1849 to June 1, 1850.
Column 11-School within the year Those marked were to have attended school sometime between June 1, 1849 and June 1, 1850. It is interesting to note how many 3 year olds attended school.
Column 12-Persons over 20 who can not read & write Self explanatory
Column 13-Whether deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict Self explanatory