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Census and Census Records

General Entry

In 1744 the population of Texas, according to Henderson Yoakum's History of Texas (1855), was about 1,500, centered largely around San Antonio. There were a few small settlements on the Rio Grande and in East Texas near Nacogdoches. An official Spanish census of December 31, 1792, records 247 male mulattoes, 167 female mulattoes, 15 male Blacks, and 19 female Blacks in a total population for Texas of 1,617 males and 1,375 females. The estimated population of Texas was 7,000 in 1806, and it was not much greater fifteen years later when Stephen F. Austin founded his colony on the Brazos River. In 1826 a census of the Austin colony showed 1,800 persons, 443 of whom were slaves. The colonization period of 1821–35 brought many settlers; the population was estimated at 20,000 in 1831. In 1834 Juan N. Almonte, after a visit to Texas, placed the population at 24,700, including slaves. In 1836 there were probably 5,000 Blacks, 30,000 Anglo-Americans, 3,470 Hispanics, and 14,200 Indians in Texas. A population of about 50,000 is indicated by the vote for the first president of the republic in 1836, and the vote of 1845, the last year of the republic, indicated a population of 125,000. In 1847 a partial enumeration was made showing a population of 135,000, of whom 39,000 were slaves. In a census of the state for 1848 the total population was given as 158,356, of whom 42,455 were slaves.

The first United States census was taken in 1850, when the Texas population comprised 154,034 Whites, 397 free Blacks, and 58,161 slaves. The second United States census in 1860 gave Texas a population of 604,215. Growth in population was rapid until the Civil War; the decade of 1860–70 shows the smallest increase of population of any of the decennial periods for which enumeration of population has been made. Between 1870 and 1880 the population of Texas increased 94.5 percent to reach a total of 1,591,749. The census for 1900 ranked Texas sixth in the United States, with 3,048,710 residents. Each decade showed an increase in population; in 1930 Texas ranked fifth in population with 5,824,715. In 1940 Texas was ranked sixth again among states, but the population had grown to 6,414,824. A 19.7 percent increase between 1940 and 1950 brought the population to 7,677,832. In 1955 Texas had an estimated population of 8,657,000 and ranked sixth in the nation. The 1960 census recorded 9,579,677 persons living in Texas. By 1962 the population had reached the 10,000,000 mark, with 75 percent of all residents classified as urban. The official 1970 population was 11,196,730.

During the 1970s the majority (58.5 percent) of population growth in Texas was due to an influx of people from other states. In the 1980s the increase was attributed to immigration from other countries (76 percent of net migration was from foreign nations). In 1980 the Texas population stood at 14,229,191. By 1990 it had increased by 20 percent to 16,986,510. During the 1980s minority populations grew considerably in the state. Between 1980 and 1990 Hispanic population figures increased by 45 percent, African Americans by 17 percent, and Whites by 10 percent. In 1990 the ethnic breakdown of the population was as follows: 10,291,680 non-Hispanic Whites, 1,976,360 Blacks, 4,339,905 Hispanics, and 378,565 other groups. During the 1980s the rural population continued to decline, reaching a low of 19.7 percent of the entire state population in 1990. The farm population constituted 1.1 percent of the state total. Overall, the growth in Texas population since 1970 had exceeded the growth of the nation as a whole.

The United States Bureau of the Census has reported the following population figures in Texas:

1850 212,592

1860 604,215

1870 818,579

1880 1,591,749

1890 2,235,527

1900 3,048,710

1910 3,896,542

1920 4,663,228

1930 5,824,715

1940 6,414,824

1950 7,677,832

1960 9,579,677

1970 11,196,730

1980 14,229,191

1990 16,986,510

Barnes F. Lathrop, Migration into East Texas, 1835–1860: A Study from the United States Census (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1949). Rupert N. Richardson, Texas: The Lone Star State (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1943; 4th ed., with Ernest Wallace and Adrian N. Anderson, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1981). Texas General Land Office, First Census of Austin's Colony, 1826 (MS, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Census and Census Records,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 31, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.