Census Records

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Discover Your Family in the 1950 Census

Learn what to expect after the 1950 census is released, when it will be available for browsing, how to search the census on different websites and how you can make the census more accurate and accessible.


Census Records Resources from Family Tree

How to Browse Census Records on the “Big” Genealogy Websites

Can’t find someone in the census? Browsing schedules for the place he lived can help you pull his name off the pages. Here’s how to do this on the biggest genealogy websites: Go to Search > Card Catalog and run a keyword search for the year and census. Or go to the main search page, look under Census & Voter Lists and select US Federal Census Collection. Click the desired census and select the place under Browse this collection. From the page, click Browse All Published Record Collections and type United States census in the Filter By Collection Name box. Select the desired census, then scroll down and click the Browse link.
HeritageQuest Online(available through participating libraries) From the home page, click on the census you need. Select Browse this Collection and filter to the right locale. From the home page, click A-Z of record sets. Under Showing Records From, select United States and enter US census in the search box. Click the desired census and one of the Browse options. From the US Census Collection home page, select the census year and run a search with your best guess in the Residence field. Use the arrows in the record viewer to page through the schedules.

Sunny Jane Morton, from the January/February 2016 issue of Family Tree Magazine

Researching Census Records

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1790 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: AUGUST 2

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1800 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: AUGUST 4

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1810 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: AUGUST 6

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1820 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: AUGUST 7

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1830 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

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1840 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

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1850 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

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1860 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

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1870 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

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1880 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

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1890 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

(This was a Sunday, so the actual census-taking began June 2.)

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1900 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: JUNE 1

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1910 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: APRIL 15

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1920 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: January 1

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1930 Census Records

Official Enumeration Date: APRIL 1

(OCTOBER 1, 1929 in Alaska)

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1940 Census Records

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1950 Census Records

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State and Other Census Records

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Census Research Case Studies

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Census Records Research Resources


When you’re looking for census records, note that the government didn’t give uniform instructions to census takers until 1850, so the content and format prior to that date may vary. And unfortunately, most of the 1890 census burned in a Commerce Department fire in 1921. To supplement the national enumerations, try looking at state censuses, which were taken between federal ones.



Agricultural Censuses, Statistics by Decade


Free Census Project

Guide to Census Non-Population Schedules at Duke University

HeritageQuest Online

Historical Census Browser

NARA: Census Records

Orphans’ Home Website

USGenWeb Archives

WEBSITES (Canadian and UK)

1901 Census for England and Wales: Search this census index for free (warning: it’s notorious for errors), then pay about to see transcribed details on a person and view a record image. UK and Ireland Collection: A subscription gets you linked images and indexes for the 1871, 1891 and 1901 censuses of England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Automated Genealogy: So far, this index to the 1901 Canadian census has 5.6 million lines transcribed. Search on a name, then use the geographic data to find a record image at the National Archives of Canada website, which you can search by location only.

British Origins: England and Wales Census 1841: For a yearly fee, you can search the earliest enumeration to list everyone living at a residence, rather than just the head of household.

The Genealogist: The Census Name-Indexing Project has transcribed 1841 to 1901 UK census information and made it available online. To view an index for a county during a particular census year, you need to purchase a subscription.

WEBSITES (Census Alternatives)

1890 Veterans Census

Censuses of American Indians

National Archives: Federal Nonpopulation Schedules, 1850-1880

National Archives: Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940

National Archives: Nonpopulation Census Records

Prologue Magazine: The Special Enumeration of Union Veterans and Widows

US Census Bureau: Nonpopulation Records

USDA Census of Agriculture: Census Publications


1930 Census: NARA’s “comprehensive guide” gives search strategies and answers to frequently asked questions about the most recent census open to the public.

1940 Census Facts: The American Family Through Time

Census Finder: Pick a state from the pull-down menu for links to online record sources.

Census Links: Click the United States link, then select a state and county to surf related census material.

Census Online: You’ll find links to enumerations on both free and subscription websites.

Census Questions by Decade

Cyndi’s List: Census

FamilySearch Wiki: United States Census

Genealogy Toolbox

One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse: US Census Publications and Resources

ProQuest Guide to HeritageQuest Online: U.S. Federal Census

Resources for Genealogists: Census Records: Access NARA’s online guide to getting and using federal census records.

Searching the US Census by Name in One-Step: subscribers get more flexible census searching here.

Unified Census ED Finder from One-Step: If you know your city-dwelling ancestor’s town and street, use this site to identify enumeration districts for the 1910 to 1930 censuses.

USGenWeb Census Project: USGenNet, a splinter group from the original USGenWeb, offers a search form and a chart of available transcriptions and scanned images.

ONLINE RESOURCES (State-specific)

Colorado State Archives: 1870 Census Index: Click on an alphabetical surname range and look for your ancestor in this browsable index.

Dakota Territory 1860 Census: Search this pre-statehood enumeration by surname.

Dakota Territory 1885 Census

Historic Pittsburgh Census Schedules: Search federal census data for Pittsburgh from 1850 to 1880, and Allegheny City from 1850 through 1870.

Idaho State Historical Society: 1890 Idaho Census: View a copy of the 1890 census index, recently reconstructed by volunteers, covering select Idaho counties.

Illinois Genealogy Trails: Census by County: This Prairie State website provides links to statewide census data, including listings by county.

Kansas Census: Federal and State, 1855 to 1930: The Kansas State Historical Society offers a smattering of online indexes to state and federal censuses. Click on the link for each census year to find out what’s available.

Library of Michigan 1870 Census Index: You can search this index by name, county or township.

Maryland State Archives Census Indexes: Search indexes of the 1776 and 1778 state censuses, the 1870 federal census for 22 counties plus Baltimore, and the 1880 federal census for Anne Arundel County.

Nevada Historical Census: : The Silver State is the first to put all its federal census data online — 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920.

New York State Census: This informative site provides microfilm numbers for New York state censuses. It also links to data for the 1720 Albany, 1714 Dutchess, 1702 Orange and 1689 Ulster county censuses.

Oregon State Archives: Census Records: Access indexes to state censuses for the years 1865, 1875, 1885 and 1895.

TNGenWeb Project: Part of the USGenWeb Project and run by volunteers, you can search by Tennessee’s 95 counties.

Special Maine 1837 Census: To view data from this enumeration, select a locality. Find links to special censuses for Wisconsin Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Florida and the Dakotas at the bottom of the page.

Washington Historical Records Search: Scour territorial census records from 1847 to 1892, plus the entire 1910 census of Washington.


The 1890 Cherokee Nation Census Indian Territory (Oklahoma) by Barbara L. Benge (Heritage Books)

The American Census Handbook by Thomas Jay Kemp (SR Books)

The American Census: A Social History by Margo J. Anderson (Yale University Press)

The Census Book: A Genealogist’s Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes by William Dollarhide (Heritage Quest)

A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services, 1840 by the US Department of State (Genealogical Publishing Co., out of print)

The Census Tables for the French Colony of Louisiana From 1699 Through 1732 by Charles R. Maduell Jr. (Genealogical Publishing Co.)

A Century of Population Growth from the First Census of the United States to the Twelfth, 1790-1900 by the Bureau of the Census (Genealogical Publishing Co.)

The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists edited by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack and Erin Nevius (Family Tree Books)

Finding Answers in US Census Records by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Matthew Wright (Ancestry)

First Steps in Genealogy by Desmond Walls Allen (Betterway Books)

The Genealogist’s Census Pocket Reference by Allison Dolan (Family Tree Books)

Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790, 12 volumes (Clearfield Co.)

Historical Statistics of the States of the United States compiled by Donald B. Dodd (Greenwood Publishing Group)

Indexes to Manufacturers’ Census of 1820: An Edited Printing of the Original Indexes and Information compiled by the National Archives (Bookmark)

Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide (Genealogical Publishing Co.)

Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000 (US Government Printing Office)

Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990, From the Twenty-One Decennial Censuses (US Government Printing Office)

The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Ancestry)

State Census Records by Ann S. Lainhart (Genealogical Publishing Co.)

Your Guide to the Federal Census by Kathleen Hinckley (Betterway Books)


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