Published originally in 1981, the work at hand is an alphabetical listing of all free African-American heads of household listed in the five U.S. censuses for the State of New York taken between 1790 and 1830. Since it was during this 40-year period that the New York legislature passed a series of statutes resulting in the gradual emancipation of the state’s slave population, the scope of this work documents the emergence of a completely free black population by 1830. In all, there are 15,000 references to freedmen, many of whom appear in more than one census.
A few observations about the arrangement and contents of the volume are in order. The householders are listed by surname in a single alphabetical sequence. Persons for whom a first name but no surname is given in the census are interwoven into the alphabetical arrangement by first name. Accompanying each householder is the census year in question, his/her New York county and township of residence, and a page reference to the original record. While the sources given for the 1800 to 1830 censuses refer to pages found on the microfilm copies of the original census enumeration sheets, the 1790 references correspond to pages in the well known 1908 U.S. Census Bureau publication, Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790. Finally, the researcher must bear in mind that many free blacks of this era worked for and resided with white families. Since only heads of household are identified in these censuses, these black servants/boarders cannot be represented in this volume. Nor can the other members of the African-American households-except as one of the statistics attributed to every household.