When Was Census Day?

The United States Decennial Census has been conducted on different days throughout its history, and the information contained in the census might be interpreted in different ways, depending on whether the information was accurate as of the official day of the census or as of the actual day the enumerator recorded the information.

It’s not clear if the enumerators for the 1790, 1800, and 1810 were instructed to ensure that the data collected was accurate as of the first Monday in August.  Certainly, as of the 1820 Census, the enumerators were expected to record information as of the enumeration date, not the date on which the information was recorded, but there is little way to know if the enumerators actually followed these instructions.

1790 US Federal Census

The 1790 Census enumeration began on the first Monday in August – August 2, 1790.

1800 US Federal Census

The 1800 Census enumeration began on the first Monday in August – August 4, 1800.  The census was to be completed within nine months.

1810 US Federal Census

The 1810 Census enumeration began on the first Monday in August – August 6, 1810.

1820 US Federal Census

The 1820 Census enumeration began on the first Monday in August – August 7, 1820.  The census was to be completed within six months, but the completion date was extended to September 1, 1821.  All data collected was to be accurate as of August 7, 1820.

1830 US Federal Census

The 1830 Census enumeration began on June 1, 1830, and the enumerators were instructed to transmit the returns to the marshals by December 1, 1930.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1930.

1840 US Federal Census

The 1840 Census enumeration began on June 1, 1840 and the enumerators were instructed to transmit the returns to the marshals by November 1, 1840.  This deadline was extended to May 1, 1841.  Due to discrepancies in the reports, the enumeration of Montgomery County, Maryland was repeated beginning on June 1, 1841, with the returns due by October 1, 1841.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1840.

1850 US Federal Census

The 1850 Census enumeration began on June 1, 1850 and the results were returned to the Secretary of the Interior by November 1, 1850.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1850.

1860 US Federal Census

The 1860 Census enumeration began on June 1, 1860.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1860.

1870 US Federal Census

The 1870 Census enumeration began on June 1, 1870.  Schedule 1 (Free Inhabitants) was due to be completed by September 10, 1870 and all other schedules were due by October 1, 1870.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1870.

1880 US Federal Census

The 1880 Census enumeration began on June 1, 1880.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1880.

1890 US Federal Census

The 1890 Census enumeration began on June 2, 1890 (June 1 was a Sunday).  In cities with populations less than 10,000, the enumeration was to be completed within two weeks.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1890.

1900 US Federal Census

The 1900 Census was enumerated as of June 1, 1900.  The enumeration was to be completed within two weeks in areas with a population greater than 8,000 and within a month in rural areas.  All data collected was to be accurate as of June 1, 1900.

1910 US Federal Census

The 1910 Census enumeration began on April 15, 1910.  The enumeration was to be completed within two weeks in cities of 5,000 inhabitants or more and within 30 days in smaller or rural areas.  All data collected was to be accurate as of April 15, 1910.

1920 US Federal Census

The 1920 Census enumeration began on January 2, 1920, but all data collected was to be accurate as of January 1, 1920.

1930-2000 US Federal Census

The 1930-2000 US Federal Censuses was taken as of April 1.  All data collected was to be accurate as of April 1.

To summarize, Census Day for the various US Federal Censuses was:

  • the first Monday in August for the 1790-1820 Censuses
  • June 1 for the 1830-1900 Censuses
  • April 15 for the 1910 Census
  • January 1 for the 1920 Census
  • April 1 for the 1930-2000 Censuses

The information in the Census Records is intended to be accurate as of the official Census Day.

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One Response to When Was Census Day?

  1. Dan Lynch says:

    Great Summary! If it’s of any help, there is a summary table on one of my web sites about cenus records that lists the census year, census date, and population, as well as the sitting U.S. President on the actual census date. It can be found at: http://1930census.com/census_overview.php

    DanL

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