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Census Research Guide: 1850

For more info...

Historical Census Populations of Counties and Cities in California

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.

Population Schedules

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.


Need help? Use the Ask-A-Librarian reference service, or call us at (858) 822-0450 during Research Assistance Desk hours.

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.

Questions asked

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


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.

Key publications:

Print available in the Library

Online access

The Seventh Census of the United States: 1850
[C 3.14:850]

From the Census Bureau

From Newsbank

From Univ. of Michigan

From the GPO

Statistics of Manufactures, 1850
[C 3.14:850-1/1]

From Newsbank

Mortality statistics of the United States, 1850
[C 3.14:850-1/2]

From the Census Bureau

From Newsbank

From Univ. of Michigan

Report of the Superintendent of the Census for December 1, 1852
[C 3.14:850-2]

From the Census Bureau

From the GPO

[C 3.14:850-3 (Annex HB881.A1 D4 v.5)]

From the Census Bureau

From the GPO