Tennessee Census Records

Tennessee Electronic Library

Census records are available free to Tennessee residents.  Go to the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL),
select Genealogy under TEL Shortcuts, then select HeritageQuest Online.

 

DESCRIPTIONS OF CENSUS RECORDS 1790 - 1940

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has an extensive collection of census records for the state of Tennessee. The following descriptions provide a brief summary of our holdings.

1790, 1800 and 1810: Tennessee became a state in 1796. The territorial census schedules and the 1800 census were lost or destroyed. The 1810 census of Tennessee was also lost, except for Grainger and Rutherford counties, which have been indexed.

1820: This census is incomplete and most East Tennessee counties are missing. Please visit the Ask Us a Question! web page to check on which county records are available.  Heads of household are listed by name, while family members are indicated by numbers of males and females by age groups.

1830: Heads of household are listed by name, family members are indicated by numbers of males and females by age groups. The census includes age and gender of free blacks, slaves, and deaf, dumb, and blind people included in the household.

1840: Heads of household are listed by name, family members are indicated by numbers of males and females by age groups. The census includes age and gender of free blacks, slaves, and deaf, dumb, and blind people included in the household.

1850: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is given as of the census day (June 1, 1850).  The census information includes the individual’s birthplace, race, if the individual was married within the previous year, if individuals over 20 could read or write, and the occupation of males over 15.   The census lists if the individual is a deaf-mute, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper or a convict.  No relationships are included in the listings, although the first listing is the head of the household.

1860: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is given as of the census day (June 1, 1860).  The census information includes the individual’s birthplace, race, if the individual was married within the previous year, if individuals over 20 could read or write, and the occupation of males over 15.   The census lists if the individual is a deaf-mute, blind, insane or “idiotic”.  No relationships are included in the listings, although the first listing is the head of the household.

1870: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is listed as of the census day (June 1, 1870).  The census information includes the individual’s birthplace (state or country), race, if the mother or father was of foreign birth, if the individual was married within the previous year, if the individual attended school within the previous year,  if individual could read or write, and the occupation of males over 15.   The census lists if the individual is a deaf-mute, blind, insane or “idiotic”.  No relationships are included in the listings; the first listing is the head of the household.

1880: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is listed as of the census day (June 1, 1880).  Family member listings include their relationship to the head of the household. The census information includes the individual’s birthplace (state or country), race, marital status, if the individual was married within the previous year, if the mother or father was of foreign birth (location by state or country), if the individual attended school within the previous year,  if individual could read or write, and their occupation.  The census lists if the individual is a deaf-mute, blind, insane, “idiotic”, maimed, crippled bedridden or otherwise disabled.

1890: The 1890 census was destroyed in a records warehouse fire before microfilm was invented. There are no surviving Tennessee census records for 1890.

1891: Tennessee conducted an enumeration of male voters in 1891.  Some of these voter lists include age and race, but no other personal or family information is provided.

1900: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is listed as of the census day (June 1, 1900) and includes the birth month and year, as well as the birthplace (location by state or county). Family member listings include their relationship to the head of the household. The census information includes the individual’s race, marital status and number of years married, occupation, names and birthplaces of the the mother and father (location by state or country)  and if the individual can read or write.  Those born in other countries are asked for the year of immigration and the number of years they have lived in the United States.  Females are asked for the number of children they have bore.

1910: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is listed as of the census day (April 15, 1910) and includes the individual’s birthplace (location by state or county). Family member listings include their relationship to the head of the household. The census information includes the individual’s race, marital status and number of years married, occupation, names and birthplaces of the mother and father (location by state or country), if the individual can read or write and what language they speak.  Those born in other countries are asked for the year of immigration and whether they are a naturalized citizen.  Females are asked for the number of children they have bore.  Males are asked if served in the Union or Confederate Army or Navy.

1920: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is listed as of the census day (January 1, 1920) and includes the individual’s birthplace (location by state or county). Family member listings include their relationship to the head of the household. The census information includes the individual’s race, marital status, occupation, if the individual can read or write and what language they speak.  Those born in other countries are asked for the year of immigration, whether they are a naturalized citizen and the year of naturalization.

1930: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is listed as of the census day (April 1, 1930)   and includes the individual’s birthplace (location by state or county). Family member listings include their relationship to the head of the household.  The census information includes the individual’s race, marital status and age at first marriage, occupation, if the individual can read or write, if they attended school or college, and what languages they speak.  Those born in other countries are asked for the year of immigration and whether they are a naturalized citizen.  Individuals are asked if they are a veteran of any US military or naval force and to specify the war or expedition.

1940: Heads of household and family members are listed by name; their age is listed as of the census day (April 1, 1940) and includes the individual’s birthplace (location by state or county). Family member listings include their relationship to the head of the household.  The census information includes the individual’s race, marital status, the highest grade of school completed, citizenship of those born outside the United States, and the occupation of those 14 and older.  Two individuals on each census ledger page were asked additional questions:  birth place of mother and father; language spoken at home in earliest childhood; and if the individual was a veteran or the wife, widow or child of a veteran. Females selected for the additional questions were asked additionally if they had been married more than once, their age at marriage, and the number of children then have bore.

 

CENSUS AVAILABILITY

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has an extensive collection of census records for the state of Tennessee.  Online viewing of Tennessee census records is available through the terminals located in the Public Services section of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Tuesday - Saturday 8:00am - 4:30pm. The Library and Archives also has microfilm copies of extant Tennessee census records up through 1930.

Your local library may provide access to web sites such as HeritageQuest Online or AncestryLibrary.com, which have scanned the existing Tennessee census records for 1810 - 1880 and 1900 - 1940.  Residents of Tennessee can access census records on HeritageQuest Online by going through the Tennessee Electronic Library. The archives.org web site also offers scanned PDFs of Tennessee census records to the public.

 

CENSUS INDEXES

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has a number of published census indexes; several cover state-wide listings for a specific census year, which others cover a specific county during a census year.  Please visit the Ask Us a Question! web page for the availability of these indexes and what information they contain.

 

ORDERING CENSUS RECORDS OR CENSUS INDEXES

Please see our web site for information on ordering copies of Tennessee census records or copies of Tennessee census indexes.

 

Subcategory: