Ask DGS – Delaware 1790 Census
By Reese Robinson
One question often heard from members is “Are any substitutes for the 1790 census of the state available online? If not, are any available elsewhere?”
The short answer is that nothing is available online for this period. As most Delaware researchers know, the 1790 census schedules for Delaware and a number of other states were lost. The popular story is that they were burned in Washington DC by the British during the War of 1812, although there is another theory. In any case, the records are unavailable and all we have is summary data. In Delaware in 1790, there were 59,096 individuals recorded in the census for Delaware, of which 11,783 were white males of 16 years and upward, including heads of households.
At least two attempts have been made to reconstruct this census using other sources, primarily tax records.
The first is Delaware 1782 Tax Assessment and Census Lists, by Ralph D. Nelson Jr., Catherine B. Nelson, Thomas P. Doherty, Mary Fallon Richards, and John C. Richards; Delaware Genealogical Society, 1994. This publication contains data abstracted from 25 tax lists and 7 census lists, covers 8,670 tax assessments and 2,652 households. This is available for purchase on CD in our online store. The hard copy is out of print, but is available in local repositories.
The second is Reconstructed 1790 census of Delawareby Leon DeValinger, Jr,; National Genealogical Society Bookstore, 1962. This book provides a list of tax payers from 1790 or the closest year for which data was available, and lists around 8,000 people. This is also available in local repositories.
Look What I Found at the Historical Society!
From time to time, we will be featuring articles from our newsletter here on the DGS home page. The following is from September 2016.
by Calista Tussey Wiley
I’d heard stories of my family’s beginnings in the new world all of my life. My grandfather Tussey told us our ancestors had come here on the Kalmar Nyckle, which meant very little to us back then. It wasn’t until they began to build the replica that I had any real idea what was meant by that. That spurred my interest in our roots so I started searching.
One of the first places I visited was the Delaware Historical Society, which held a wealth of information on the family. In the file room I discovered a file marked Tussey. It held names, dates, locations, birth records, bap- tismal records, and fascinating information about long dead Tusseys/Tossawas/Thorssons, as the name evolved through time.
At the back of that file was a small scrap of paper with a notation – See Burnham file. In another file drawer I found the Bird, Burnham & Tussey file and took a fascinating look into history. Sarah Tussey Bird’s son, John Bird III married Elizabeth Van Leuvenigh. Elizabeth kept a diary, and included in the diary for 1867-1873 was a story of her ancestor, who married Lucy Meline. Lucy, as Elizabeth described, ‘was a gay girl in her youth’ and one of the anecdotes about her was of a Sunday morning when she went to Old Swede’s Church in Phil-adelphia. She took her usual seat in the family pew and, in Elizabeth’s words - ‘did not notice the sundry beckonings to attract her attention, or see that the family was not there. And when a tall, fine looking gentle-man walked in she sat still until the service began when they shared the same prayer book and sat side by side throughout the service. After the service her cousins told her she had sat beside General Washington, that they had vacated the pew knowing he would be there.’
I’m thrilled to think of our family’s brush with greatness, even one as fleeting as sharing a prayer book.
Resources at the University of Delaware Library
From time to time, we will be featuring articles from our newsletter here on the DGS home page. The following is from November 2015.
University of Delaware Library
Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning
DGS President Susan Kirk Ryan spoke about the UD Library and the UD’s Osher Institute genealogy resources. The resources include:
- The UD Library website —Available to the public, it offers valuable genealogy information. The UD Library’s Genealogy Homepage is accessed at http://guides.lib.udel.edu/genealogy, There are clickable links to many genealogy research topics, including Beginners; Census; City Directories; Immigration; and Wills and Probate. Each link opens a new page with informative content and more specific topic links. Rebecca Knight, Associate Librarian, provides useful research information for all levels on a wide variety of topics, including links to outside sources and suggested library books.
- Online Databases for Genealogy and History — These include Ancestry Library Edition; America's Historical Newspapers; the New York Times (ProQuest Historical), and many other databases. Off-campus access to online reference materials is restricted to UD faculty, students (including Osher) and staff, but anyone may view the online databases on computers at the UD library.
- Genealogy Workshops — Two are held each semester and are open to the public. The first is a beginner workshop and the second is usually on a more advanced and specialized genealogy topic, such as the upcoming workshop, “Tracing Your Family's WWI Military History,” on November 19, 2015, 10:00am-12:00pm.
- Special Collections — The library offers a wide range of resources, searchable and browsable via online Finding Aids. There is also a Digital Collection, accessible online. Special Collections include books, manuscripts, prints, maps, newspapers, directories, postcards, photographs, oral histories, and Civil War collections.
Contact Information: UD’s Morris Library, 181 South College Ave, Newark, DE 19717-5267. The website has directions and parking information. The visitors’ center parking lot (#41) is across South College Avenue from the Library. Phone: (302) 831-2965. Library web page: library.udel.edu. Genealogy Research Guide: http://guides.lib.udel.edu/genealogy. Electronic reference services are available to email questions (“Ask the Library” for general UD library questions, “Ask Spec” for Special Collections questions – see website).
• UD’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (Wilmington) — Offers weekly classes in Genealogical Research Methods; Genealogy Computer Workshops; Using Family Tree Maker; a Genealogy Interest Group; and classes in writing Family History. Classes are open to those 50 and over. Osher membership includes access to the UD Morris Library databases from home, including Ancestry Library Edition.
Contact Information:Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Arsht Hall, 2700 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, DE 19806; 302-573-4417. www.lifelonglearning.udel.edu/wilm. Email: LLLemail@example.com
Welcome to the Delaware Genealogical Society, a place for all genealogists to meet and share their knowledge and experiences. The Society endeavors to be the primary source of information about Delaware families, as well as a trusted provider of genealogical education and assistance for all of our members.
This mission is accomplished through our monthly seminar program, a Society newsletter, a twice yearly Society Journal, the DGS Delaware Families blog and this website which contains general Delaware guidance for all and Delaware specific content in a Members Only section. This web site is for you, the membership, and we look forward to your input to ensure it meets your needs.