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Guide To Census Records

Delaware’s United States census material offers a wealth of information to a researcher. Genealogists find census records particularly useful for tracing family lines or histories in the state. Historians find them useful for local history information. Social scientists find them useful for demographics, ethnic studies, etc. Federal census records date from 1790 and continues every 10th year. As a general rule, the information in each successive census is progressively more detailed. The schedules for the period 1790-1840 show the names of enumerated heads of families only, and others in the household are tallied by characteristics (age groups, sex, and race). All subsequent enumerations, however, list each individual in a household by name. The most recent census available at the archives is 1940. Because they contain personal information, census records can only be released 72 years after their creation. Separately created indices are available in book form for the years up to and including 1870. After this point, researchers can access census records on microfilm or through Described below is the information that is relevant for certain census records years.

  • 1790 Delaware’s federal census for this year was recreated by tax assessments
  • 1800-1840 indexed by household head
  • 1850-1870 1850 census began to include names of individuals other than household head
  • 1930 Computer index available in the research room.
  • 1890 census records for Delaware were destroyed by fire
  • 1910 this census was not indexed for the state of Delaware, so you must know where an individual lived to then search through enumeration districts.
  • 1940 are the most recently available census records available are only available online at

Special Census Records

Delaware Public Archives houses various federal special census records. Mortality schedules, created in 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, enumerate name and description of deceased (age, sex, race, marital status); place of birth; month of death; profession, occupation, or trade; cause of death; and the number of days ill. The 1880 mortality schedules include father and mother’s birthplace and the name of the attending physician. Slave schedules enumerate slave owners and the number of slaves for the years 1850 and 1860. These schedules include descriptions of slaves (age, sex, color); if slaves are fugitives from the state; manumitted;  and deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic. The 1860 slave schedules also include the number of slave houses. Agriculture schedules, created in1850 through 1880, enumerate  name of owner, agent, or manager of the farm; number of acres on the farm (improved or unimproved); value of farm and equipment; kind and number of livestock; total value of all livestock; kind and quantity of produce for the year; and value of animals slaughtered. The 1870 and 1880 schedules include the total amount of wages paid during the year and the value of board, as well as the estimated value of all farm production (sold, consumed, or on hand).
Industry schedules, created in 1850, 1860, and 1870, enumerate name of corporation, company, or individual, producing articles to the annual value of $500; name of business, manufacture, or product; capital investment; raw material used (quantities, kinds, values); source of power (hand, water, wind, steam, horse); number of employees (male and female); wages; and annual product (quantities, kinds, values). In 1880, the manufacturer schedule began including such operations as agricultural implements; paper mills; boot and shoe factories; lumber and sawmills; brickyards and file works; flour and grist mills; cheese, butter, and condensed milk factories; slaughtering and meat-packing; salt works; and distilleries. The schedule also includes wages and hours of labor; months in operation; power used (hand, water, steam, wind, horse); types and quantities of materials and supplies involved in manufacturing; the value of materials and supplies; and finished products and by-products produced.
Social statistics schedules, created in 1850, 1860, and 1870, enumerate overall conditions of the state’s welfare, such as valuation of estate (real and personal); annual taxes (types, amount, method of payment); colleges, academies, and schools (type of   school, number of teachers, number of pupils, amounts received from taxes, public funds, or other sources); seasons and crops (crops that came up short, extent of shortage, average crop); libraries (number of library edifices, type of ownership and number of   volumes); newspapers and periodicals (name, character [political or social view], how often published, circulation); religion (number of church edifices, maximum   accommodation, value of church); pauperism (name of division, number of native and foreign paupers supported through the year, total number of native and foreign paupers as of June 1st, amount of cost of support); crime (number of natives and foreigners incarcerated as of June 1st); and wages (average wages of a farm laborer with board, day-laborer with and without board, day wages to a carpenter without board, weekly wages of female domestic with board, and price of board to laboring men per week).
In 1880, the format of social statistics schedules was altered to include more information about paupers and indigent inhabitants, homeless children, and inhabitants who were incarcerated, insane, idiotic, deaf-mutes and/or blind. The schedules show the type of physical or personal disability, page and line reference to population schedule, name and location of inhabitant, reason or cause for being institutionalized, date of discharge, and whether inhabitant is self-supporting.


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