The law that created the first United States Census was signed by President George Washington, Vice President John Adams and Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg on March 1, 1790. On August 2, 1790 all the households in the 13 states were supposed to be visited and the information recorded to create the record. Who was included on this census?
- Free white males of 16 years and upward (to assess the country's industrial and military potential)
- Free white males under16 years
- Free white females
- All other free persons
It ended up taking more than 9 months to do the visits and record that information and in the meantime, Vermont had become a state so really it is a census of 14 states and some territories including what became the state of Tennessee
Information was gather in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Not all the records have survived, North Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, Georgia, Virginia and Delaware were lost but some of them have been reconstructed using other records.
Slightly less than four million people are included on that census. If your family goes back to that time period, where can you find these records. If you have a membership at ancestry.com they are available there. Family Search has an index to the records.
While this early census is not for everyone, it can be used in conjunction with some of the later ones to see where your family was living at the time and to develop a migration pattern.