Instructions for the 1830 US census

The 1830 census was the fifth decennial census of the United States. It was also the first one in which census takers were provided with a standard form on which to enter information (previously census takers had just used any piece of paper). According to the US Archives publication Measuring American, "The questionnaire measured 18½ inches by 16 inches, and was printed on both sides of the form." (p.7)

The 1830 census was a head of household census, that is, the only names it lists are those people who were heads of households. For each household it also lists information on the members broken down by sex, race, and age, and for "colored" people by status as free or slave. It also asks for the number of white and colored deaf and blind people.

Like the 1820 census, the 1830 census too asks for the number of "foreigners not naturalized" (in this transcription, this is the column headed by "Fo"). And just as with the 1820 census of Madawska, it is unclear how this was determined; indeed, there are cases where someone is listed as foreigner in one but not the other, and some people who were from the Madawaska Settlement itself are so listed. Again, the meaning of this is unclear, except that in the case of English-speaking residents, those from New Brunswick, England, Ireland or Scotland seem to be properly identified in terms of citizenship.

Although the census taker was instructed to survey every household in his district, in the case of the two districts Madawaska North of the St.John and Madawaska South of the St.John, we know from other censuses and from marriage records that John Webber, the enumerator for these districts, missed a significant number of families. The reason for this is probably that the British magistrate for the region ordered them to stop taking the census; this was a disputed territory and the US was not to assert sovereignty (for details on this intervention by the British go to the page on the census taker).

So if you do not find someone in the 1830 census, it does not mean they were not there. Be sure to check the 1831 survey of the Madawaska Settlement, as well as the 1833 New Brunswick census of Madawaska, which, like the 1830 census and 1831 survey, covered both the north and south banks of the St.John in today's Aroostook County, Maine and Madawaska County, New Brunswick.

Below is the text of part of the instructions that were sent to all of the Marshals charged with conducting the census enumeration.

The source of these instructions is a publication of the US National Archives and Records Administration, Measuring
America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000
. Publication no.POL/02-MA (Washington: US Dept. of Commerce,
April 2002).

Instructions to Marshals

The execution of the fifth section of the act requires the further interrogatories, whether any person, whose usual abode was in the family on the 1st day of June, 1830, be absent therefrom at the time of making the inquiry, and if so, the sex, age, color, and condition, are to be asked and marked in the proper column, in the return of the family. It follows, of course, that any person, who, at the time of taking the enumeration of any family, has his abode in it, is, nevertheless, not to be included in the return of that family, if his usual place of abode, was, on the 1st day of June, in another Family. The name of every person, having no settled place of residence, is to be inserted in the column of the schedule, allotted for the heads of families, in the division where such person shall be on the 1st day of June, and of course, also in one of the other columns, according to the age and condition of such person.

To facilitate the labor of your assistants, a printed list of all the interrogatories for enumeration is enclosed (No.3), in which all the questions refer to the day when the enumeration is to commence-the 1st day of next June. Your assistants will also bear in mind to include all persons of a family (except Indians not taxed) who were members thereof on the 1st day of June, 1830, whether present or not, and not to include any person whose usual abode was not in the family they are enumerating on the said 1st day of June. They will, of course, include such persons as may have deceased after that day, and will not include in it infants born after that day. This, though not prescribed in express terms by the act, is the undoubted intention of the legislature, as manifested by the clause, providing that every person shall be recorded as of the family in which he or she shall reside on the 1st day of June, 1830.

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Last revised 10 Jul 2003