|The 1850 census was the first census year to list
complete families, or households. Previous years only listed the
head of a household, and how many people of certain age, sex, and race
were living in the household.
There are many tricks to understanding the
census, and how to use the information contained. The link above for
Enumerator Instructions tells you what the enumerators were required to
collect for a census year.
Here are some basic rules to follow:
1. ALWAYS look at the original document. The following data
is a human transcription, mistakes happen.
2. NEVER assume that everyone listed in a household is related.
For instance, do not assume that a typical listing is father, mother,
children. Some of the younger people could be nieces, nephews,
cousins, or even siblings to the head of household.
3. The 1850 census had to be done by June 1850, which was
impossible. The data in this census reflects that date. If
someone died on 7 August 1850, you will be surprised to find that ancestor
in the census. Why? Because they were alive prior to June
1850. Works the same for children being born.
4. Some children have an age of 4/12, which means 4 months old.
DO NOT subtract these months from the month listed on the particular page
you are viewing. Remember, this was their age as of June 1850.