Objective: To locate a specific person who lived in Pennsylvania in 1840. In this example we are tracking Elizabeth Haines, who lived in Pennsylvania, and may have been counted in the Federal Population Census for Pennsylvania in 1840. We want to confirm this information and determine any other information about her family collected by the census enumerator in 1840.
1840 Census: Pennsylvania reel listing located at bottom of guide.
The Internet can be a valuable tool to aid in your Census search. There are many sites that provide information. Census Online contains over 44,000 links to US census records, census calculators, and census forms from 1790-1930. The microfilm information and the internet information can be used together to complete a search for an individual. Links to Internet sources have been inserted throughout this document that complement and, in some cases, replace the print indexes or the census microfilm. Please note that the microfilm constitutes the primary source and should be consulted for errors in transcription.
Please ASK the staff at Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno Desk at any time for additional help or clarification about how to locate the sources or information.
Step 1: Begin in the Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno, and locate the book titled, Pennsylvania 1840 Census Index (Call number: HA605.P45 1840) in the Indexes and Guides Section.
The beginning of Pennsylvania 1840 Census Index also includes a list of the Census schedules taken from 1790 through 1900, instructions as instituted by Congressional Law from 1789 to 1850, and a chronological list of territories, in addition to the map of Pennsylvania along with the individual maps of the Pennsylvania Counties in 1840.
Step 2: Locate the person you are searching in the Pennsylvania 1840 Census Index. Names are listed in alphabetical order by last name. To follow along with our example, you will find HAINES, ELIZABETH listed on page 261. See Example 1 below.
There were four Elizabeth Haines’ in Pennsylvania noted during the 1840 Census. For our example, we are following Elizabeth Haines who lived in the North Mulberry Township of Philadelphia County.
Example 1: Showing entries for Elizabeth Haines.
Step 3: Review the entry information provided for each name entry in the Pennsylvania 1840 Census Index. We have highlighted in red the information for Haines, Elizabeth in Example 1 above.
Visit US GenWeb Census Project to determine if any census information is recorded online for Elizabeth Haines in 1840. This is an ongoing project with new data continuously being added [Note: If census records are not available online, it will be neccessary to view the Census data available on microfilm.]
Step 4: Before leaving the Pennsylvania Census Index volume, write down the following information:
Then, locate the 1840 Census: Pennsylvania on microfilm in Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno, in the microfilm cabinets under the call number HA217.U5P4 1840 reels 435 – 503. The National Archives lists the contents for the 1840 Federal Population Census microfilm reels.
If you need any help locating this call number in Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno, microfilm cabinets, please ASK the staff at the Reference Desk.
Step 5: For our example, to locate the original ledger entry for Elizabeth Haines, find reel No. 481 containing the “City of Philadelphia, census division N Mulberry”
At this point you will need to use a microfilm reader/printer/scanner machine in Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno, to locate and read the entry for Elizabeth Haines. Please ASK the staff at the Reference Desk for help if you are unfamiliar with the machines.
Step 6: Now, using our example, Elizabeth Haines, you will need to find the original ledger page (36) by scrolling through the microfilm until you locate page 36. The page numbers can be found on the upper right hand corner of the second microfilm page (See Example 2 below).
A blank 1840 census form [from Ancestry.com] can be viewed and printed to assist your collection of data from the microfilm.
Example 2: Showing the location of the page number on the original page ledger.
The frame with the ledger page number will be the second of two consecutive frames that contain all of the information from the original ledger entry. Therefore, in order to find the name of the person you are seeking, you will need to view the frame prior to the one with the page number.
Names of individuals are not in alphabetical order on the ledger page. Read the page carefully to locate Elizabeth Haines’ name. The 19th Century script and the microfilm quality can sometimes present interesting challenges for the researcher!
Example 3: Showing the names on the first frame of ledger page 36. Elizabeth Haines is the 19th entry on that page.
Example 4: Showing the second frame of ledger page 36. Elizabeth Haines’ information is contained in the 19th row.
Elizabeth Haines’ household had a total of six people in 1840. There were 2 white males of twenty and under thirty, 3 white females of twenty and under thirty and 1 white female of forty and under fifty. We also know that 1 of these persons was employed in Commerce, and 1 of these persons was employed in Manufactures and Trade.
In 1840, the following information was collected and recorded by the census enumerator. The Head of the Family is listed, followed by a series of numbers in columns which should be interpreted as follows:
|Reel No.||Names of Counties (Pennsylvania)||Note|
|Reel 436||Berks (part)||Reading, Maxatawney, Kent Town, Albany, Greenwich, Maiden Creek, Windsor|
|Reel 437||Berks (part)||Richmond, Long Swamp, Ruscombmanor (Ruscomb Manor), Rockland, Exeter, Oley, Amaty (Amity), Alsace|
|Reel 438||Berks (part)||Douglass, Colebrookdale, Washington, Earl, Upper Tulpehocken, Cumru, Robeson, Union, Brecknook, Caernarvon, Bern, Womelsdorf, Heidelberg, Upper Bern, Tulpehocken, Pike, District, Hereford, Millerstown, Bethel|
|Reel 439||Allegheny (part)||Ohio, Franklin, Pine, Roso, West Deer, East Deer, Lower St. Clair, Upper St. Clair, Jefferson, Mifflin, Indiana, Reserve|
|Reel 440||Allegheny (part)||Fayette, Findlay, Moore, Robinson, Birmingham, City of Allegheny, Elizabeth|
|Reel 441||Allegheny (part)||City of Pittsburgh, Pilt, Pebbles, Versailles, Plum, Wilkins|
|Reel 446||Bucks (part)||Solesbury, Plumstead, Bedminster, Tinicum, Nochamixon|
|Reel 446||Bucks (part)||Southampton, Bristol, Bristol Borough, Fallingston, Bensalem, Northampton, Morrisville Borough, Middletown, Durham, Springfield, East Rockhill, Milford, Hilltown, West Rockhill, Haycock, Richland, Doylestown, New Britton, Warrington, Warminster, Warwick, Wrightstown, New Hope, Buckingham, Newton, Upper Wakefield, Lower Wakefield|
|Reel 451||Cambria and Centre|
|Reel 453||Chester (part)||Brandywine, Honeybrook, West Caln, West Nantmeal, East Nantmeal, West Bradford, East Bradford, East Caln, West Fallowfield, East Fallowfield, Sadsbury, West Chester, West Goshen, East Goshen, Westtown, Thornbury, Birmingham, Schuylkill, Charlestown, Tredyffrin, East Pike land, West Pikeland|
|Reel 454||Chester (part)||Londonderry, New London, West Nottingham, Lower Oxford, Upper Oxford, Penn, West Marlborough, London Grove, Uwchlan, East Vincent, West Vincent, Coventry, Kennett, East Marlborough, New garden, Pennsbury, London Britain, Newlin, West Whiteland, East Whiteland, Williamstown, Easttown|
|Reel 464||Jefferson and Juniata|
|Reel 465||Lancaster (part)||City of Lancaster, Rapho, Manheim, West Donagal, East Hampfield, East Donagal, Marietta, Mt. Joy, Manor, Columbia, West Hampfield|
|Reel 466||Lancaster (part)||Little Britain, Durmore, Martick, Salisbury, Colerain, Strawsburg, Sadsbury, Lancaster, Bart, Coenestogo|
|Reel 467||Lancaster (part)||Seacock, Lampeter, East Cocalico, West Cocalico, Elizabeth, Ephrata, West Earl, Earl, Carnaervon, Brecknock|
|Reel 471||Luzerne (part)||Jefferson, Greenfield, Covington, Benton, Blakeley, Buck, Butler, Carbondale, Denison, Hanover, Hazel, Lackawanna, Newport, Nescopeck, Providence, Pittston, Sugarloaf, Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes-Barre borough|
|Reel 472||Luzerne (part)||Windham, Kingston, Tunkhannock, Exeter, Eaton, Northmoreland, Abington, Salem, Falls, Nicholson, Dallas, Monroe, Braintrim, Lehman, Plymouth, Fairmont, Union, Huntington, Washington|
|Reel 475||Mifflin, McKean, Northumberland|
|Reel 476||Potter and Susquehanna|
|Reel 477||Montgomery (part)||Chiltonham, Horsham, Abington, Moreland, Montgomery, Gwynedd, Franconia, Hatfield, Skippack, Perkiomin, Worcester, Frederick, Douglass, Upper Hanover, Upper Salford, Lower Salford, Towamencin (Towamensing)|
|Reel 478||Montgomery (part)||Pottstown, Pottsgrove, Limerick, Upper Providence, New Hanover, Marlboro (Marlborough), Lower Providence, Norristown, Norriton, Plymouth, Lower Merion, Whitemarsh (White Marsh), Springfield, Upper Dublin, Whitpaine|
|Reel 481||City of Philadelphia||N Mulberry, S Mulberry, and Upper Delaware Wards|
|Reel 482||City of Philadelphia||N, High St, Chestnut, and Middle Wards|
|Reel 483||City of Philadelphia||S, Walnut, Dock and Locust Wards|
|Reel 484||City of Philadelphia||New Market, Cedar, and Pine Wards|
|Reel 485||Philadelphia County (part)||
City of Northern Liberties, Wards 1-7
|Reel 486||Philadelphia County (part)||Southwark, Wards 1-5|
|Reel 487||Philadelphia County (part)||Spring Garden, Wards 1-4|
|Reel 488||Philadelphia County (part)||Kensington, Wards 1-5|
|Reel 489||Philadelphia County (part)||Blockley, West Philadelphia, Bristol, Byberry, Moreland, Lower Dublin, Germantown|
|Reel 490||Philadelphia County (part)||Kings Spring, Moyamensing|
|Reel 491||Philadelphia County (part)||
Northern Liberties (township), Oxford, Frankford, Pattyunk, North Penn, South Penn, Roxborough
|Reel 492||Pike and Schuylkill|
|Reel 497||Venango||(includes part of Westmoreland County)|
|Reel 501||York (part)||Dover, Springfield, Manheim, Shrewsbury, Codorus, North Codorus, Hanover, Heidelburg, Paradise, York (borough), Manchester|
|Reel 502||York (part)||Warrington, Washington, Monaghan, Fairview, Lewisbury, Newbury, Conenago, Dillsburgh, Franklin, Carroll|
|Reel 503||York (part)||Fawn, Hopewell, Lower Windsor, York, Upper Windsor, Hellam, Wrightsville, Peach Bottom, Lower Chanceford, Chanceford, West Manchester, Spring Garden|