Source: Government and Heritage Library Blog
The second federal census occurred in 1800 census and contained more details about the ages of people in the household than recorded in the 1790 census. More age ranges for free white men and women were added. Slaves and all other free people (except American Indians who were not taxed), are still in the same groups – all slaves counted together, all other free people of color counted together.
The new age categories for free white men and women are: under 10 year, 10-16 years, 16-26 years, 26-45 years, 45 and up. This brings up a question – What if a person was exactly 16, 26, or 45? It is important to know, 10-16 means those who are 10, but under 16, so the category covers 10-15. In the same way, 16-26 indicates those who are age 16, but under 26, so the category includes 16-25. Following suit, 26-45 refers to age 26, but under 45, which is why the final group is “45 and up”. Some blank charts keep the categories the way they appear on the census, but others are modified to show the true age range. See below for links to free printable blank charts.
There are two published indexes of the 1800 census for North Carolina; however, they differ in the number of heads of households (Leary, 439). The Government and Heritage Library has the index published by Elizabeth P. Bentley, which according to Leary, contains 61,000 names while the version from Ronald V. Jackson contains only 60,000 names.
As with all census records, spelling variations are very common and based on many things, such as accents. Enumerators were not allowed to ask how a name was spelled. My southern Foxworthy family was found in an Illinois census as Coxweathen, for example. It is important to be aware of these variations, even with common names, such as Smith, Smyth, Smythe, Smithe. If you are using an index, whether online or in print, you might still have difficulty finding your ancestor. Take a look at a post from November on viewing original census microfilm when you hit a brick wall while searching for your ancestor in the census.
Race can be another tricky issue in the census. Census takers were not allowed to ask a person’s race; rather, they based their recording on observation. Because of this, some free African Americans were counted as white. If a potential ancestor’s race does not match other documents, just remember it’s all about what was seen and perceived. Free African American research in antebellum North Carolina is my specialty. I have often seen a family marked as Black one year, Mulatto the next, and White the third year.
Read more at Government and Heritage Library Blog.