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Census: Microfilm Collections & Services

This guide focuses on locating people in the census microfilm reels.

1850 Census

Objective: To locate a specific person who lived in Pennsylvania in 1850.  In this example we are tracking Andrew Kate, who lived in Pennsylvania, and may have been counted in the Federal Population Census for Pennsylvania in 1850.  We want to confirm this information and determine any other information about his family collected by the census enumerator in 1850. 

1850 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  Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno, and locate the books titled, Pennsylvania Census Index 1850 (Call number: HA605.P45 1850 v.1 (A-K) and HA605.P45 1850 v. 2 (M-Z)) in the Indexes and Guides Section.  These volumes contain the names of the heads of the family listed in the 1850 Census: Pennsylvania.

Step 2:

Locate the person you are searching in the Pennsylvania Census Index. Names are listed in alphabetical order by last name.  To follow along with our example, you will find KATE, ANDREW listed on page 806.  See Example 1 below. 

Example 1: Showing the entry for Andrew Kate on page 806 of the Pennsylvania Census Index 1850

1850 census name

Step 3:  Review the entry information provided for each name entry in the Pennsylvania Census Index. We have highlighted in red the information for Kate, Andrew in Example 1 above. 

This includes:

  • Last name, first name - Kate, Andrew
  • 3 letter County Code - CAM
  • The page on the microfilm -  181
  • Census Division (first 8 letters) – Cambria

Visit US GenWeb Census Project to determine if any census information is recorded online for Andrew Kate in 1850.  This is an ongoing project with new data continuously being added [Note:  for this example, as of 4/21/08, the census records for 1850 for Cambria County are available online.  See links below:]

The transcribed index can be viewed here.  (The index lists Andrew Kate as a 25 year old male born in Germany, living in Cambria County.)

The transcribed entry can be viewed here.  (This entry shows that Andrew Kate is a 25 year old male who works as a laborer and lives in a boardinghouse.)  Since this is a transcription of the original documentation, it is subject to human error.  To view the original document via the microfilm, continue with step 4.

Step 4: Before leaving the Pennsylvania Census Index, write down the following information:

  • Name (first and last)
  • County
  • The page on the microfilm (181, in this example).

Then, locate the 1850 Census: Pennsylvania on microfilm in  Microforms & Government Information, 2nd floor Paterno, in the microfilm cabinets under the call number HA217.U5PA 1850 reels 743 – 840. The National Archives lists the contents for the 1850 Federal Population Census microfilm reels. This information has also been transcribed into a chart on the next to last page of the document.

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 Andrew Kate, find reel No. 761 of the 1850 Census: Pennsylvania containing Cambria County. 

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 Andrew Kate. Please ASK the staff at the Reference Desk for help if you are unfamiliar with the machines.

Step 6: Now, using our example, Andrew Kate, you will need to find the original ledger page (181) by scrolling through the microfilm until you locate page 181.  These ledger Page Numbers are typed on the top right hand side of the page. (See Example 2 below).


Example 2:  Showing the location of the page number on the original page ledger.

1850 ledger page number

Then, you will need to locate Andrew Kate’s name on the ledger page.  A blank 1850 census form  from can be printed to assist your collection of data from the microfilm.

Names of individuals are not in alphabetical order on the ledger page. Read the page carefully to locate Andrew Kate’s name.  The 19th Century script and the microfilm quality can sometimes present interesting challenges for the researcher!

Example 3: Showing the names on Ledger Page 181 and Andrew Kate’s name on that page.1850 ledger page 181

Step 7:  Review the information collection for Andrew Kate.  (See example 4)

In 1850, the following 13 columns of information were collected:

1. Dwelling – houses numbered in the order of visitation

2. Families – numbered in order of visitation

3. The name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June 1850 was in this family


4. Age

5. Sex

6. Color

7. Profession, occupation, or trade of each male person over 15 years of age

8. Value of Real Estate owned

9. Place of birth – naming the State, Territory, or Country

10. Married within the year

11. Attended school within the year

12. Persons over the age of twenty years of age who cannot read and write

13. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict

This was the first year that all of the members of the family are listed in the census after the head of the household.  

Example 4:  Copy of the original ledger page with all of the information for Andrew Kate.

1850 ledger page for Andrew Kate

Andrew Kate was a 25 year old male who lived in a boardinghouse.  His occupation was a laborer and he was born in Germany.

Reel No. Names of Counties (Pennsylvania) Note

1850 Census: Pennsylvania reels 743 - 840

Reel 743 Adams  
Reel 744 Allegheny (part) Allegheny, Ross, Reserve, Pine, Sharpsburg, Manchester, Ohio, Duquesne, Franklin
Reel 745 Allegheny (part) City of Pittsburgh (Wards 1-4)
Reel 746 Allegheny (part) City of Pittsburgh (Wards 5-9)
Reel 747 Allegheny (part) East Deer, West Deer, Tarenton, Indiana, Shale, Jefferson, West Elizabeth, Baldwin, Elizabeth, Versailles, McKeesport, Wilkins, Patton, Plum, Lawrenceville, Peebles, Collins
Reel 748 Allegheny (part) Pitt, East Birmingham, Birmingham, South Pittsburgh, Lower St. Clair, Mifflin, Upper St. Clair, Snowden, Robeson, South Fayette, North Fayette, Findley, Moon
Reel 749 Armstrong  
Reel 750 Beaver  
Reel 751 Bedford  
Reel 752 Berks (part) Marion, Womelsdorf, Tulpehoccan, Penn, Centre, Upper Tulpehoccan, Upper Bern, Upper Heidelburg, Bethel, Noth Heidelburg, Reading
Reel 753 Berks (part) Exeter, Alsace, Bern, Lower Heidelburg, Oley, Washington, Hereford, Longswamp, Maxatawny, Kutztown, Richmond, Greenwich, Albany, District
Reel 754 Berks (part) Antalawny, Maidencreek, Ruscombmanor, Rockland, Hamburg, Windsor, Perry, Union, Douglass, Colebrookdale, Cumru, Brecknock, Caernarvon, Robeson, Amity, Pike, Earl
Reel 755 Blair  
Reel 756 Bradford (part) Troy, Athens, Ulster, Smithfield, Springfield, Towanda, Burlington, Franklin, Le Roy, Granville, Canton, Rome
Reel 757 Bradford (part) Orwell, Pike, Windham, Herrick, Litchfield, Monroe, Albany, Durell, Wysox, Sheshequin, Wilmot, Asylum, Springhill, Standing Stone, Wyalusing, Armenia, Columbia, Wells, South Creek, Ridgebury
Reel 758 Bucks (part) Lower Makefield, Newtown, Wrightstown, Upper Makefield, Buckingham, Warrington, Warwick, Falls, Morrisville, Solebury, New Hope, Plumstead, Bedminster, Hilltown, New Britain, Middletown
Reel 759 Bucks (part) Bristol, Bensalem, Northampton, Southampton, Warminster, Milford, Rockhill, Haycock, Springfield, Durham, Nockamixon, Tinicum, Richland, Doylestown
Reel 760 Butler  
Reel 761 Cambria  
Reel 762 Carbon  
Reel 763 Centre  
Reel 764 Chester (part) West Nottingham, East Nottingham, Upper Oxford, Lower Oxford, Oxford, Penn, London Grove, New London, London Britain, Londonderry, Newlin, West Marlborough, Wast Marlborough, Kennett, New Garden, East Bradford, West Bradford, East Goshen, West Goshen, Willistown, West Chester, East Town, Tredyffrin, Charlestown
Reel 765 Chester (part) East Pikeland, West Pikeland, Uwchland, West Vincent, East Vincent, Phoenixville, Pocopson, Pennsbury, Schylkill, South Coventry, East Coventry, North Coventry. Warwick, West Nantmeal
Reel 766 Chester (part) East Nantmeal, East Caln, West Caln, East Brandywine, West Brandywine, Sadsbury, West Fallowfield, East Fallowfield, Honeybrook, Westtown, Birmingham, Thornbury, West Whiteland, East Whiteland
Reel 767 Clarion  
Reel 768 Clearfield and Clinton  
Reel 769 Columbia  
Reel 770 Crawford (part) Spring, Beaver, Cussewago, Hayfield, Summerhill, Conneautville, Conneaut, Meadville, Mead, Vernon, Pine, Summit
Reel 771 Crawford (part) West Fallowfield, Sadsbury, South Shenango, Titusville, Oil Creek, Rome, Sparta, Troy, Randolph, Wayne, Woodcock, Richmond, Venango, Rockdale, Athens, Bloomfield, East Fallowfield, Fairfield, Greenwood, North Shenango
Reel 772 Cumberland (part) Upper Allen, Lower Allen, North Middleton, West Pennsboro, Frankford, Upper Dickinson, Lower Dickinson, South Middleton, Hopewell, Southampton, Shippenburg
Reel 773 Cumberland (part) Mechanicsburg, Monroe, Silver Spring, Newville, Newton, Mifflin, Carlisle, New Cumberland, East Pennsboro, Hampden
Reel 774 Dauphin (part) Harrisburg, Reed, South Hanover, Hummelstown, Derry, Middletown, Upper Swatara, Lower Swatara, Londonderry
Reel 775 Dauphin (part) Susquehannah, Dauphin, Middle Paxton, Lower Paxton, Canewago, Halifax, Jackson, Jefferson, Rush, West Hanover, East Hanover, Wiconesco, Lykens, Mifflin, Washington, Upper Paxton
Reel 776 Delaware and Elk  
Reel 777 Erie (part) Amity, Wattsburg, Wayne, Concord, Union, Le Beouf, Venango, Greenfield, Harborcreek, North East, Greene, Fairview, Erie
Reel 778 Erie (part) Mill Creek, Waterford, Washington, Edinboro, Franklin, Elk Creek, McKean, Girard, Springfield, Conneaut
Reel 779 Fayette (part) Wharton, German, Georges, Springhill, Nicholson, Henry Clay, Menallen, Union
Reel 780 Fayette (part) Franklin, Dunbar, Perry, Jefferson, Brownsville, Bridgeport, Redstone, Luzerne, Washington, Cookstown, Connellsville, Tyrone, Bullskin, Saltlick, Springfield, Youghiogheny
Reel 781 Franklin (part) Warren, Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters, Guilford, Washington, Waynesboro, Greene, Chambersburg
Reel 782 Franklin (part) Hamilton, St. Thomas, Letterkenny, Metal, Southampton, Lurgan, Fannet, Quincy, Greencastle, Antrim
Reel 783 Fulton and Greene  
Reel 784 Huntingdon  
Reel 785 Indiana  
Reel 786 Jefferson and Juniata  
Reel 787 Lancaster (part) Little Britain, Colerain, Bart, Drumore, Martic, Manor, Columbia, Conestoga, Conoy, Bainbridge, Manheim, Raphoe, Marietta
Reel 788 Lancaster (part) Mount Joy, West Donegal, East Donagal, Warwick, Fulton, East Hempfeld, West Hempfield, East Lampeter, West Lempeter, Lancaster, City of Lancaster
Reel 789 Lancaster (part) Sadsbury, Salisbury, Strasburg, Leacock, Upper Leacock, Ephrata, Blue Ball, New Holland, Earl, West Earl, Elizabeth, Paradise, Penn, Brecknock, East Cocalico, West Cocalico, Caernarvon
Reel 790 Lawrence  
Reel 791 Lebanon  
Reel 792 Lehigh  
Reel 793 Luzerne (part) Kingston, Dallas, Jackson, Franklin, Exeter, Plymouth, Lehman, Lake, Ross, Union, Salem, Huntington, Fairmount, Ransom, Newton, Scott, Benton, Madison, Jefferson, Fell, Greenfield, Providence, Carbondale
Reel 794 Luzerne (part) Wilkes-Barre, Hanover, Denison, Black Creek, Butler, Dorrance, Sugarloaf, Buck, Hazle, Newport, Hollenback, Nescopeck, Blakely, Covington, Abingdon, Lackawanna, Pittston
Reel 795 Lycoming and McKean  
Reel 796 Mercer  
Reel 797 Mifflin  
Reel 798 Monroe  
Reel 799 Montgomery (part) Franconia, Lower Salford, Perkiomen, Pottsgrove, Limerick, Pottstown, Whitemarsh, Frederick, New Hanover, Douglass, Upper Hanover, Whitepain, Worcester, Upper Providence, Upper Salford, Marlboro
Reel 800 Mongomery (part) Cheltenham, Mooreland, Upper Merion, Conshohocken, Plymouth, Springfield, Horsham, Upper Dublin, Gwynedd, Montgomery, Lower Providence, Abington, Lower Merion, Towamensing, Hatfield, Norristown
Reel 801 Montour  
Reel 802 Northampton (part) Williams, Saucon, Forks, Easton, Upper Nazareth, Lower Nazareth, Bethlehem
Reel 803 Northampton (part) Hanover, East Allen, Allen, Lehigh, Bushkill, Plainfield, Moore, Lower Mt. Bethel, Upper Mt. Bethel
Reel 804 Northumberland  
Reel 805 Perry  
Reel 806 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Kensington wards 1-4
Reel 807 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Kensington wards 1-4
Reel 808 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Kingsessing, Whitehall, Lower Dublin, Manayunk, Moreland
Reel 809 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Mayamensing
Reel 810 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Northern Liberties wards 1-4
Reel 811 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Northern Liberties wards 5-8
Reel 812 City of Philadelphia (part) Cedar, South, Lombard
Reel 813 City of Philadelphia (part) Pine, Spruce, Walnut, Chestnut
Reel 814 City of Philadelphia (part) Middle, Locust
Reel 815 City of Philadelphia (part) North Mulberry, South Mulberry
Reel 816 City of Philadelphia (part) Lower Delaware, Upper Delaware, High Street
Reel 817 City of Philadelphia (part) North, New Market, Dock
Reel 818 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Spring Garden District wards 1-3
Reel 819 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Spring Garden District wards 4-6
Reel 820 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) N. Penn, Oxford, Passyunk, Penn, Ritchmond, Roxborough
Reel 821 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Southwark wards 1-3
Reel 822 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Southwark wards 4-6
Reel 823 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Unincorporated, Aramingo, West Philadelphia
Reel 824 Philadelphia (excluding City of Philadelphia) (part) Blockley, Bridesburg boro, Bristol, Byberry, Frankford, Germantown
Reel 825 Pike  
Reel 826 Schuylkill (part) West Brunswick, East Brunswick, Orwigsburg, Schuylkill Haven, South Manheim, Minersville, Branch, North Manheim, Lower Mahantongo, Porter, Frailey, Upper Mahantongo, Wayne, Pine Grove, Fremont, Union, Rush, Butler
Reel 827 Schuylkill (part) Barry, Cass, Blythe, New Castle, East Norwegian, Tamaqua, West Penn, Schuylkill, Pottsville, Norwegian
Reel 828 Somerset and Sullivan  
Reel 829 Susquehanna  
Reel 830 Tioga  
Reel 831 Union  
Reel 832 Venango and Warren  
Reel 833 Washington (part) Smith, Robinson, North Strabane, Peters, Hanover, Cecil, Mount Pleasant, East Bethlehem, Millsborough, West Brownsville, Greenfield, East Pike Run, West Bethlehem, Somerset, Nottingham, Carroll
Reel 834 Washington (part) Monongahela, Union, Fallowfield, West Pike Run, South Strabane, Chartiers, Washington, Amwell, Canonsburgh, Morris, Canton, Buffalo, West Finley, Cross Creek, Donegal, Claysville, Hopewell, West Middletown, East Finley
Reel 835 Wayne  
Reel 836 Westmoreland (part) Franklin, Allegheny, North Hunt, Salem, Washington, Loyalhanna, Ligioner, Mt. Pleasant, Donegal, Fairfield, East Huntingdon
Reel 837 Westmoreland (part) Adams, Greensburg, Hempfield, Mississinewa, West Newton, South Huntingdon, Sewickley, Rostraver, Unity, Derry
Reel 838 Wyoming  
Reel 839 York (part) Fawn, Hopewell, Peach Bottom, Shrewsbury, Lower Chanceford, Chanceford, Hanover, Dover, Manheim, Heidelberg, North Codorus, South Codorus, Paradise, York
Reel 840 York (part) Windsor, Hellam, Spring Garden, Wrightsville, Lower Windsor, Manchester, Springfield, West Manchester, Conewago, Managhan, Carroll, Dillsburg, Lewisberry, Newberry, York Haven, Fairview, New Market, Rossville, Warrington, Washington, Franklin