Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
New York (N.Y.) Seventh Ward Poll Book, ca. 1838

Finding aid created by
Manuscript Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: New York (N.Y.) Seventh Ward poll book
Creator: New York (N.Y.)
Inclusive dates: ca. 1838
Extent: 165 pages
This poll book is an electoral census of the 7th Ward of New York City and is arranged alphabetically by street, and numerically by address.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1989. M-2501.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

New York (N.Y.) Seventh Ward Poll Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


In 1834, New York's 7th Ward fronted onto the East River southeast of Division Street in the lower east side of Manhattan. Its 15,873 residents lived in conditions that were poor and steadily declining, with open prostitution and slum development at either end. A $532 per capita income (in 1830) places the 7th Ward in the lower middle of all wards in the city, well below the $820 median income, and less than 30% of the income of the affluent 1st Ward. The 7th, in fact, had a lower average income than the neighboring 6th Ward ($628), which included the notorious Five Points Slum, though still double the income levels of its desperately poor neighbors to the north, the 10th and 13th Wards.

In the hotly contested elections of the 1830s and 40s, the 7th Ward was a key to victory. It came out with one of the highest Tammany votes in the presidential election of 1828, but swayed between the major parties for the next two decades in both local and national elections. For the national elections of 1840 and 1842, the ward was nearly evenly split between the Democratic and Whig Parties, though in the mayoral elections of those years, Whigs fared poorly, with the vote split between Democrats and the remnants of the National Republicans.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This electoral census of the 7th Ward of New York City is arranged alphabetically by street, and numerically by address. Although the volume is not dated, cross referencing the names and addresses of the residents with New York city directories suggests a date of 1837-38.

The compiler of this census apparently walked up one side of each street and down the other, as the addresses frequently ascend in even numbers and then descend in odd numbers. At most addresses, he recorded the name of the occupant(s) and provided a one letter code, with occasional additional comments such as "alien," "minor," "not in county six months," "non-resident," or the number of occupants. The code letters, probably referring to voting status, are "G" (probably for good), "B" (for bad), or "D" (doubtful?). At times, the author also wrote "all good" or "all bad" for groups of names, and in several instances, identified places as a "Whig Colony" or "Democratic Colony." On page 19 are several pencil notations of "challenge," and one man on page 3 "will vote in 4th & 7th if he can."

Subject Terms

    • Democratic Party (N.Y.)
    • Elections--New York (N.Y.)--1838.
    • New York (N.Y.)--Census.
    • Whig Party (N.Y.)
    Genre Terms:
    • Voters' lists.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    New York (N.Y.) Seventh Ward poll book, ca.  1838 [series] (165 pp.)
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Homberger, Eric. The Historical Atlas of New York City (New York: H. Holt and Co., 1994)

    Wilentz, Sean. Chants Democratic... (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984)