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1840 Census Overview

The sixth U.S. Census collected data from 26 states and is the first year with the most complete records remaining. Trace your ancestors and find out where they lived and worked. Whether you can trace your roots to the Western settlers, European immigrants, or early colonials, find your ancestors in the U.S. census records of 1840.

1840 Census Facts

  • Population: 17,063,353 - a 32.7% increase from the 1830 Census
  • Census Date: June 1840
  • Census Date Released: 1912
  • Number of States Participating: 26 - New States: Arkansas, Michigan
  • US Territories Participated: Iowa, Florida, and Wisconsin
  • Data Lost: None

1840 Census Questions Asked

  • Number of free White males and females within specific age ranges
  • Number of slaves and free colored persons within specific age ranges
  • Number of persons in the household employed by industry
  • Number of White persons who were deaf, blind, dumb, or insane
  • Number of colored persons who were deaf, blind, dumb, or insane
  • Number of colleges, universities, or institutions - Number of students at each institution - Number of scholars at public charge
  • Name and age of pensioners for Revolutionary or military service
  • Number of White persons with at least 20 years of age who could not read or write

Notable Events Between 1830-1840:

  • May 1830 - Congress approved the Indian Removal Act which would lead to the Trail of Tears (1832-1838)
  • 1831 - In August, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in Virginia
  • 1832 - On July 24 the first wagons crossed the Continental Divide on the Oregon Trail
  • 1833 - Oberlin College founded and was the first U.S. college to coeducation (refusing to bar students on race)
  • 1834 - Cyrus McCormick patents the horse-drawn grain reaper.
  • 1835 - P.T. Barnum conducted his first circus tour of the U.S.
  • 1836 - The Texian army lost the Battle for the Alamo
  • 1836 - The American Whig Party held its first convention
  • 1837 - The New York stock exchange crashed causing The Panic of 1837 resulting in a nationwide financial crisis and rising unemployment
  • 1839 - Mississippi granted women the right to own property - the first state to do so
  • 1840 - Cpt. Charles Wilkes claims Antarctica for the U.S. after circumnavigating it in January

Westward expansion defined the decade between 1930-1940. The nation experienced many advances, including the first coeducational college and women gaining the right to own property. Despite these progressions, the Trail of Tears was a painful six-year period of bloodshed. As the U.S. expanded its borders west, large waves of Northern and Western European immigrants brought in new traditions. One new tradition adopted in the 1930s was the Christmas tree decorating tradition which came from German immigrants. For a thorough genealogy search, combine the 1840 Census with our collection of U.S. newspaper archives to trace your ancestors beyond just names and dates. Uncover the story of your family today.