Research Guide to Colonial and State Census Records

For related materials, see our Research Guide to Special Federal Census Schedules for Connecticut and State Archives Record Group 029, Military Census of 1917.


Colonial Census Enumerations

1669/1670
"Grain Inventory for Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor". This inventory includes the names of the head of the household and the number of family members, as well as the number of bushels of wheat and Indian corn held by each family. It has been published in The Wyllys Papers, Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, volume 21 (1924), pp. 190-199 [CSL call number HistRef F 91 .C7 vol. 21].

A more complete listing of Connecticut's inhabitants ca. 1670 is found in:

Holbrook, Jay Mack. Connecticut 1670 Census. Oxford, Mass.: Holbrook Research Institute, 1977 [CSL call number HistRef F 93 .H73 1977a Mfiche]. This reconstruction, based on tax, land, church, freeman, and probate records for the period 1667-1673, includes the names of about 2,300 individuals.

Other 17th Century EnumerationsRough population figures for adult males for the years 1671, 1676, 1677, 1678, and 1679 based on annual lists of persons and estates supplied to the General Assembly are found in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, volume 3, pages 290-300 [CSL call number HistRef ConnDoc G25].

 

1756
"An Account of the Number of Inhabitants as returned in 1756." This is the first census of the colony considered to be fairly reliable and covers all six of the counties then in existence. It includes the number of "inhabitants" in each town by race (whites, "Negroes", and "Indians"). The schedule is printed in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, volume 14, p. 492 [CSL call number HistRef ConnDoc G25 1772/75] and inA Century of Population Growth, p. 164 [CSL call number HistRef HA 214 .A5].

1762
This census was taken by the selectmen of the colony's sixty-eight towns. The letter ordering the compilation is found in the Trumbull Papers,volume 2, document 7, pages "a" and "b". The resolution providing that selectmen of each town report the number of men in each training company appears in Connecticut Archives: Militia, Second Series, document 332.

A copy of the actual census is in the Ezra Stiles Miscellaneous Papers, number 299, at the Beinecke Library, Yale University. A contemporary manuscript copy is at the Connecticut Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth St., Hartford, CT 06105.

For an article describing this census and a reproduction of the census tables, see:

  • Bickford, Christopher P. "The Lost Connecticut Census of 1762 Found", Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin 44 (April, 1979), pp. 33-43 [CSL call number F 91 .C67].
  • "A Lost Connecticut Census Found!", Notes & News from the Connecticut Historical Society, vol. 3, no. 3 (1976), p. 1 [CSL call number F 91 .C675].
1774

"An Account of the Number of inhabitants in the Colony of Connecticut January 1, 1774: Together with An Account of the Number of Inhabitants, taken January 1, 1756." The resolution ordering that the 1774 census be taken is in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, volume 14, pp. 160-61 [CSL call number HistRef ConnDoc G25 1772/75] and the resolution directing that it be printed appears in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, volume 14, p. 163. E. Watson's bill for printing is in Connecticut Archives: Revolutionary War, First Series, volume I, document 201.

This is a statistical census. It shows the total numbers of males under ten years, females under ten years; males between ten and twenty years (and whether married or single); females between ten and twenty years (and whether married or single); males between twenty and seventy (and whether married or single); females between twenty and seventy (and whether married or single); males above seventy; "Negro" males under twenty; "Negro" females under twenty; "Negro" males above twenty; Indian males under twenty; Indian females under twenty; Indian males above twenty; Indian females above twenty; and total number of "whites" and "blacks" (i.e., the combined total of "Negroes" and "Indians").

The schedules have been printed in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, volume 14, pp. 483-491 and A Century of Population Growth,pp. 166-169 [CSL call number HistRef HA 214 .A5].

1776

The resolution ordering this census to be taken appears in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, volume 15, pp. 312-13 [CSL call number HistRef ConnDoc G25 1775/76] as well as in Connecticut Archives: Revolutionary War, First Series, volume 4, document 111. It was to be an "exact account of all the persons in their respective towns in this Colony, as well as negros or slaves for life as white persons, distinguishing the number of those who are under the age of twenty years from those who are above that age, the sexes, or whether married or single, those in the militia, and all able bodied men who do not belong to the militia, also those who are now in actual service...."

The form of the enumeration schedule is shown in Connecticut Archives: Revolutionary War, First Series, volume IV, document 111, page "a". Ebenezer Watson's bill for printing the resolve is found on document 328, pages "a" and "b" of the same volume. Most of the actual schedules do not appear to have survived, but scattered references to the returns from individual towns include:

  • Cornwall
    "Account of the inhabitants of the town of Cornwall, September 1776." See Connecticut Archives: Revolutionary War, Second Series, document 2, pages "a" and "b".
  • Newington
    See Willard, Josiah. A Census of Newington, Connecticut Taken According to Households in 1776. Hartford: Frederick B. Hartranft, 1909 [CSL call number 974.62 N47wi].
  • Middletown
    See The History of Middlesex County (New York: J.B. Beers & Co., 1884), page 73 [CSL call number F 102 .M6 H6]. Figures are listed for each of the categories mentioned in the resolution ordering the census, but no location of the records is given.
  • Mansfield and Pomfret
    On page 313 of volume 15 of the published Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut [CSL call number HistRef ConnDoc G25 1775/76], editor Charles J. Hoadley included a footnote stating that accounts of the Mansfield and Pomfret selectmen for time spent enumerating those towns were in Connecticut Archives: Revolutionary War, [First Series], volume IV, documents 395 and 399. However, a check of those citations in February 1990 indicated they are incorrect; document 395 deals with a report in favor of sending money for relief of Ethan Allen and other prisoners and document 399 with a petition showing that Groton was in danger of invasion. As of February 8, 1990 no reference to the Mansfield and Pomfret enumerations has been found in any Connecticut Archives series or in the Public Records, but it is hoped that additional research may eventually provide the correct citation.

The Trumbull Papers, volume IX, document 236, pages "a" - "d" includes "An Account of the Inhabitants in the Several Towns in the State of Connecticut, in years 177[ ] and 1779 with Increase & Decrease". This document lists the total population for 177[ ] by town and county but does not break down the population by age, sex, or race. The population of Westmoreland in 177[ ] is also listed. In Connecticut Sources for Family Historians [CSL call number HistRef Z 1265 .S67 F93], author Kip Sperry does not indicate that the final digit is missing and gives the year of the 177[ ] census as 1776. The totals for the population given for each town in the 177[ ] census do not match the totals for 1774, while the total population figure for Middletown given in the 177[ ] census does match the Middletown total provided in the schedule printed in The History of Middlesex County. This suggests that the figures provided in the Trumbull Papers are, in fact, the population totals for each town from the missing 1776 census.

State Census Enumerations and Substitutes

1779

"Return giving an account of the names of the families; number of persons in each family; number of bushels of wheat, and other grain; weight of flour and meal, etc., in the East Society in Norwich, Conn., April 29, 1779, made according to the Act of the General Court of Connecticut in April 1779" [CSL call number Main Vault 973.3 A28]. This seems to be a surviving fragment of the 1779 grain census.

For a copy of the act entitled, "AN Act for ascertaining the Quantity of Grain, Flour and Meal in this State and thereof to make provision for an immediate Supply of Bread for the Army and the necessitous inhabitants of the State, and for securing other necessary articles for the Army, see Records of the State of Connecticut, Volume II (1778-1780), pages 224-227 [CSL call number HistRef ConnDoc G 25 1776 v. 2].

See also "An Account of the Inhabitants in the Several Towns in the State of Connecticut, in years 177[ ] and 1779 with Increase & Decrease" in the Trumbull Papers, volume IX, document 236, pages "a" - "d" described under 1776, above, which provides population figures for each town from the 1776 and 1779 censuses.

1782
"A return of the Number of inhabitants in the State of Connecticut, February 1, 1782; and also of the Indians and Negroes." The original manuscript, found in the Trumbull Papers, volume XXIV, document 178, includes totals for each town for the number of males above 50 years of age; males above 16 and under 50; males under 16; females; and "Blacks", i.e., the combined total of "Indians" and "Negroes". A printed summary is in the State Library's Broadside collection.

1798
1798 Direct Tax of Connecticut. This document is located at the Connecticut Historical Society. For further information, please contact that institution.

1821
School Census of Glastonbury, Connecticut. This census is used as an illustration of a school census on pages 113 and 122 of The Source, edited by Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerni [CSL call number HistRef CS 49 .S65 1984]. However, the example is misleading as this document covers only the First School Society of Glastonbury. The original manuscript is in the State Library's Main Vault [CSL call number 974.62 G46s], but it has been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and should be available through LDS Family History Centers.

Bibliography

  • Bickford, Christopher P. "The Lost Connecticut Census of 1762 Found," Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin 44 (April, 1979), pp. 33-43 [CSL call number F 91 .C67]. Describes the censuses of 1756, 1762, and 1774 and includes a reproduction of the 1762 tabulation and a table comparing the town-by-town population of the colony in the three census years.
  • Daniels, Bruce C. The Connecticut Town: Growth and Development. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1979 [CSL call number HistRef HT 123.5 .C8 D35]. See especially chapter 2, "The Growth and Distribution of Population."
  • Greene, Evarts B. and Virginia D. Harrington. American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790. New York: Columbia University Press, 1932. Reprint, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993 [CSL call number HB 3505 .G7 1993].
  • McManis, Douglas R. Colonial New England: A Historical Geography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975 [CSL call number HC 107 .A11 M17].
  • Olson, Albert Lakvern. Agricultural Economy and the Population in Eighteenth-Century Connecticut. Tercentenary Pamphlet XL [CSL call number ConnDoc T271h p no. 40].
  • Thompson, Warren S. and P. K. Whelpton. Population Trends in the United States. New York: McGraw Hill, 1933 [CSL call number HB 3505 .T5].
  • Well, Robert V. The Population of the British Colonies Before 1776: A Survey of Census Data. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975 [CSL call number HistRef HB 3501 .W45].