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Census of 1852 Collection

Census of 1852 Collection

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The Census of 1852 was mandated in California law in Chapter 32 of Statutes of 1852 to enumerate the state by November 1, 1852; this was the only state census to be conducted in California’s history. The California Secretary of State in 1852, William Van Voorhies, oversaw the project and the enumerations were taken by county agents hired by their respective counties. The Secretary of State’s office complied and reported the results to California’s Governor, John Bigler. The census returns were used to determine representation in the newly established state assembly and senate, taxation, and state budget. The Census of 1852 consists of 123 volumes organized into two schedules: Schedule I, “Inhabitants,” and Schedule II, “Productions and Capital”. In schedule 1, county residents are listed by name and there is no apparent arrangement of the names. The columns under “Inhabitants” include Name, Age, Sex, Color, Occupation, Place of Birth, Last Residence, Number of Whites (male and female), Citizens Over 21, Negroes, Mulattoes, Domesticated Indians, and Foreign Residents. The information found in “Productions and Capital” includes number of Horses, Mules, Cows, Beef Cattle, Work Oxen, Bushels of Barley, Corn, Wheat, Potatoes, Quantity of Other Produce, Number of Acres of Land in Cultivation, Number of Quartz Mills, Capital Employed in Quartz Mining and in Placer Mining, and Capital Employed for Other Purposes. Each county schedule is followed by a summary of the statistics of each category. The volumes are arranged by county and then by schedule. Generally, schedules 1 and 2 are in different books, however smaller counties combined schedule 1 and 2 into one volume (i.e. Contra Costa and San Luis Obispo counties). There are no enumerations for Colusa and Marin Counties. Mendocino and Klamath counties, including schedules 1 and 2, are combined into one volume. Klamath county, included in the 1852 census, was abolished in 1874. The page numbers in the upper right-hand corner were added after 1852 and are not part of the original documents at the time of the census. Some counties included copies of each page; these pages are designated by the page number followed by “A” in the upper left-hand corner. Only the backs of the pages with markings were digitalized are included in the respective county’s pdfs. Please note, based on preservation standards of the mid-1900s, archives’ staff paper laminated, bound and arranged the census by county. The original order of the census is unknown. The pdf scans include the images of the current bound volumes’ back and front covers. Disclaimer: The Census of 1852 uses terms and language to describe African Americans, people of color, and immigrants that are now understood to be racial slurs and are derogatory and offensive.


California State Archives, a division of the California Secretary of State's Office