In 1790, the first federal census records were recorded. Another census was taken in 1800, but none of the records for Virginia from either census are still extant, except for those from Louisa County (printed) and Accomack County (microfilmed).
Some of the 1810 census records are also missing. The missing 1790 census records were partially recreated from the tax lists for 1782 to 1785.
The 1790 census records were believed to be lost during the War of 1812, when Washington, Virginia was burned by the British. Only heads of household names were listed in the 1790 census, although other household members were counted in the enumeration.
The 1787 tax list, which is often used as a substitute for the missing census records, listed the names of all free males who had to pay taxes. However, women were only listed in cases where they were widows who had sons between the ages of 16 and 21, or if they owned land.
From 1820 to 1930 federal census records were taken every 10 years. Those records can be found at the FHL and the Library of Virginia on microfilm, except for the 1890 census records. Those records were lost in a fire.
Records from two colonial Virginia censuses still exist today. Some other census abstracts have survived as well. The first census was taken on February 16, 1624 and lists the names of all people in Virginia at the time, as well as all people who had died in the area from April 1623 to the time that the census was taken in 1624.
In January and February of 1625, another census was taken. They were the “Musters of the Inhabitants of Virginia” and they included ages and relationships of household members, as well as when they became residents of Virginia, which ship they traveled to the area in, and lists of goods owned, including boats, foods, weapons, and buildings. Information varied a bit from one plantation, town, or household to the next.
A 1634 census was also taken, but those records are believed to no longer exist.
Militia musters, quitrent rolls, and tithables lists also listed Virginia residents. Each of them covers a certain precinct or county.
Missing Virginia Censuses
Virginia State censuses were recorded in 1823, 1825, and 1827, only the 1823.
The first federal census was taken in 1790, but both the 1790 and 1800 census enumerations were reportedly lost when the British burned the city of Washington during the War of 1812, (except for the 1800 censuses of Accomack County and Louisa County).
Only part of the 1810 census exists.
Virginia Tax lists from 1782 through 1785 were used as a substitute for the 1790 census.