Census Information for Genealogy
The U. S. Constitution calls for a Federal Census to be taken every ten years. The first one was held in 1790 and the most recent one was this year (2010). For genealogists they provide a valuable research tool. Although we are not allowed access to the more recent ones, the older ones provide a wonderful window into the world of our ancestors. I have written a book on using census records for research. Click here for more on that.
On these web pages I provide a little bit of information on each census. Census records can be found at major libraries on microfilm. All available census records are available for free viewing online, but some other sites require paid subscriptions. The better indexes are found on the subscription sites.
- Common census errors
- Race and ethnicity on the census
- 1790 Census
- 1800 Census
- 1810 Census
- 1820 Census
- 1830 Census
- 1840 Census
- 1850 Census - First census to list all free persons by name
- 1860 Census
- 1870 Census
- 1880 Census
- 1890 Census - Lost for most of the country
- 1900 Census
- 1910 Census
- 1920 Census
- 1930 Census - Most recent one available to the public
- 1940 Census - Will be available in 2012
- Enumerator Instructions - The actual instructions used for preparation of the 1850 through 1950 census. (External Link)
Original Census records are available on Microfilm at the National Archives, LDS Family History Centers and numerous Libraries.
Digitized Census images are available online from Ancestry.com and Footnote.com for a subscription fee. They are also available for purchase on CD from Heritage Quest and other companies. You can also find many census images online for free.
Heritage Quest is partnered with many public libraries to provide free access to the census records from home using your library card. Check with your local library.
Published, transcribed versions of the census are available for some years and locations in book form, and some are available online.