The 1800 census was the 2nd Census of the United States. The data collected by the census takers was not comprehensive, but it is of great value to researchers. They obtained the name of each "Head of Household", and then a numerical enumeration of all of the other family members by age and sex.
Only the head of each household was listed by name, everyone else was only included by category. This means that you can't view the 1800 census and immediately know who everyone in each household was. However, you can use the data and compare it to data obtained from other records, and analyze the numbers and make educated assumptions about who was in the family. Of course, this is a hit and miss proposition with varying degrees of success.
For example, consider the household of a fictional "John Davis". He was listed with one male over age 45, two males under 10, and 1 female over 45, and 1 female under 10. From this we can assume that he was the male over age 45, and that the two males under 10 were his sons, and that the female over 45 was his wife, and the two younger ones were his two daughters. However, while this is often a safe assumption to make, it is quite possible that all four children were grandchildren instead, or orphaned nephews and nieces that they were raising. From this record alone, it can not be positively determined who was who in a 1800 census household. However, if you have a family bible record showing that John Davis had two sons, one born 1791, and another born 1795, then you can be reasonably sure they were the two boys with him in 1800. If the bible record also shows he had two daughters, one born 1793, and another born 1799, then you can be fairly sure they are two of the females with him in 1800, and the other one is probably his wife. As you can see it takes some analysis to figure out how to interpret this record.
The 1800 census was taken state by state, and county by county, and in some cases the counties were further divided by districts (such as townships, companies, etc.). Some records were left in the original order the census taker visited each household, whereas others were alphabetized before being turned in. The ones in original order are very useful to determine who a persons neighbors were. If you see three Davis families listed side by side, you can reasonably assume they are somehow related.
The 1800 Census was a little better than the 1790, in that it added more columns. This time, there were 5 age groups for males and females. This helps sort out the family a little more. I will explain what each column represents in detail below.
The census was "as of" 4 Aug 1800, meaning all data collected (even if collected months after that date) was supposed to reflect the families condition on 4 Aug 1800, meaning all ages were to be listed how they were back on August 4th, even if it was three months later when the census taker asked. It isn't know if the census taker adhered to this rule or not, but that is what they were supposed to do.
The "page number" that I use on my published census abstracts are normally the stamped page number, but in many cases the page number was hand written on each page, or in some cases each page had two numbers, a stamped one, and a handwritten one.
1800 Census Columns:
- Name of Head of Household. This is usually the husband. If a woman is listed as head of household, she was usually a widow, or a single mother, or a single person raising younger siblings.
- Number of Free White Males under 10. (i.e. age 0-9, or born ca 1790/1800)
- Number of Free White Males 10 and up but under 16. (i.e. age 10-15, or born ca 1784/1790)
- Number of Free White Males 16 and up but under 26. (i.e. age 16-25, or born ca 1774/1784)
- Number of Free White Males 26 and up but under 45. (i.e. age 26-44, or born ca 1755/1774)
- Number of Free White Males 45 and upwards. (i.e. age 45 and older, or born prior to 1755)
- Number of Free White Females under 10. (i.e. age 0-9, or born ca 1790/1800)
- Number of Free White Females 10 and up but under 16. (i.e. age 10-15, or born ca 1784/1790)
- Number of Free White Females 16 and up but under 26. (i.e. age 16-25, or born ca 1774/1784)
- Number of Free White Females 26 and up but under 45. (i.e. age 26-44, or born ca 1755/1774)
- Number of Free White Females 45 and upwards. (i.e. age 45 and older, or born prior to 1755)
- Number of Free Colored Persons. Non "White" persons (other than slaves) were lumped together in this column with no age or sex distinction. These persons were not considered "White" (in the census takers opinion, anyway). See my pages on Race Codes for more about these "Free Persons of Color". Normally, these are not Indians (Native Americans), as they were not supposed to be listed at all on the census. However, they could be those of mixed Indian heritage.
- Number of Slaves. All slaves were lumped together into this one column with no age or sex distinction.