An 1810 Massachusetts census records discovery came about from a single Instagram post. Long missing from census records, the Essex County census ledger recently arrived at the National Archives in Washington. It was only 221 years late.
Black Family History Research + Social Media = 1810 Census
But it was the example, taken from an 1810 Essex County census ledger at PEM, that immediately captured attention. Jack Kabrel, a National Archives specialist with the Permanent Records Capture team, alerted his colleagues.
pemlibrary’s Instagram post from 17 Feb 2021 featured the missing 1810 census records for Essex County. (Courtesy Peabody and Essex Museum Library)
Transfer from Peabody Essex Museum Library to the National Archives
So after Kabrel’s alert, two “long-time National Archives archivists determined that the marbled indigo notebook used by Assistant Marshal Ebenezer Burrell during the enumeration of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, between August 6, 1810, and August 29, 1810, indeed was an official record that belonged in the National Archives.” Common practice may have led 20 or 30 years of census records accumulating before being sent to the the Census Bureau in Washington. Once alerted, the Peabody Essex Museum Library staff cooperated to see the records sent to their rightful home at the National Archives.
1810 Massachusetts Census Records Discovery
The featured image of this blog post shows a section of the Essex County, Massachusetts, 1810 census records. Documenting the residents of Salem in the third federal census, the records are now available at the National Archives. “A note in the margin of one section indicates that families in the northwest ward included those of John Chadwick, Jenna Jacobs, and Andrew Thomson in the column for ‘colored people’ and of Sam Brown, David McKeen, and Elijah Towne under white households,” notes the National Archives
Nancy E. Loe, MA, MLS, is a genealogy researcher and educator. After a long career in libraries and archives, Nancy now writes and lectures on her specializations: organizing research and U.S. and European records. She appears frequently at regional, national, and international genealogy conferences. She recently completed two Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy classes on Nordic research and reading German handwriting and Fraktur.