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Historical Census Populations of Counties and Cities in California
Population Totals by Township and Place for California Counties: 1860 to 1950
This report shows decennial census data on the population of California counties by minor civil division (usually townships) and place from 1860 to 1950, which is the period for which data on township population were published for California. This period also covers major historical developments in California’s settlement patterns and population distribution as the State’s population grew extremely rapidly in most decades, from 380,000 in 1860 to 10.6 million in 1950. Townships refer to judicial townships, and places include, for example, incorporated cities and towns, and unincorporated places. For each county, the data are shown in hierarchal fashion, with townships and their component places (or place parts). In addition, places in each county are listed in alphabetical order, with township parts where places crossed township boundaries.
Historical Census Populations of Counties and Incorporated Cities in California, 1850–2010
Total population counts for the state, counties, and incorporated cities in California from seventeen decennial U.S. censuses, 1850–2010.
Raw Data Files
These are computer files intended to be loaded into statistical software for analysis and creating your own tables. In some cases these files can be used with spreadsheet software as well.
Census population schedules (or "name schedules" or "manuscript census") are copies of the original questionnaires collected during each decennial census. They list the individual names and family information of the people enumerated. Unlike the statistics published soon after the census, the population schedules remain confidential for 72 years. 1930 is the most recent population schedule available.
Note: the 1850 population schedules for Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties no longer exist.
About the 1850 census
- 7th decennial census
- US population: 23,191,876
- California population: 92,597
- First census to include California. Note: federal enumerators conducted the census in 1850. California also conducted a state census in 1852. Both results are included in the 1850 census publications. The federal census of 1850 is missing Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties. They are included in the 1852 state census.
- First time additional "social statistics" (information about taxes, schools, crime, wages, etc) was gathered.
- First census to use a person (rather than household) as the basic unit of enumeration.
Name; age; sex; race (white, black or mulatto); whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic; value of real estate; occupation; place of birth; whether married within the year; school attendance; literacy; whether a pauper or convict. Supplemental schedules for slaves; public paupers and criminals; persons who died during the year.
For more information:
Map coverage of the 1850 census
For more information:
Find all 1850 census publications in the Library.
Multi-year census compilations (compare across years): These sources tend to include statistics for large geographic areas (e.g. states), but can be very useful when comparing statistics over time.