Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Census Time

Every decade America gears up for the census. Every household is mailed the 10 questionnaire page to fill out. This year we must do the same thing, or else you'll be hounded by the minions of the census bureau coming to your abode.

This isn't a new practice either! The United States has been having their citizens fill out this form for over 200 years, although I am sure they've changed some. The first census of 1790 tells us how many people were living in the United States. The results may surprise you.

The population was 3,929,326 people. That is about the same amount as the population of Los Angeles today.

Our metropolises of the east coast were already metropolises then too. They just couldn't boast the same numbers we have today. When the censuses were added up, these were the populations of those cities:

New York City: 33,000 (8,400,000)
Philadelphia: 28,000 (1,500,000)
Boston: 18,000 (600,000)
Charleston: 16,000 (127,000)
Baltimore: 13,000 (638,000)

200 years does allow ample time for cities to grow! I put the modern populations in the parentheses for you to compare. So when that annoying little envelope comes around in the mail you should find it your historic duty to fill it out!


  1. Thank you for that post, Heather. Without census data, a lot of genealogical and other historical research would be nigh on impossible.

  2. LOVELY POST! I've been dieing to know what the populations of those cities were! Thank you so much! Btw I love your posts about the colonies.

  3. Very interesting. But you have to take into account that they were only counting white people at the time, so african american slaves were only 3/5 and they didnt count Native Americans.

  4. Back when my grandfather spent 30 years researching thwe family geneology all the way back into the earliest colonial times, census records were priceless data. I mean, it's not like he could turn to the internet back in the mid 70's!

    Granted, for the stuff from before the census started, he had to turn to books and old ship records, but those census records were really useful!

    Also quite interesting when you get a discrepency like a person's birth year having somehow changed in the interim decade.