Kansas Heritage Group] [image: KU

Beginning Genealogy Lessons
by Don B. Dale

Lessons To Help You Get Started & Sometimes To Keep Going

Lesson 13: Using Federal Census Records

                                     RESEARCH SECTION
Census -1-              Primary vs. Secondary Sources
                        Background Information about the Federal Census
Census -2-              Privacy
                        Why use the Census?
                        How to use Census Records
                        Where to Start
Census -3-              What You Need to Start
                        Utilizing the Information
                        The 20/20 Rule
                        After You Get the Record, What Do You Do With It?
Census -4-              Where to Find Census Records
                        What to Extract
Census -5-              What to Watch Out For (Pitfalls)
                        U.S. Federal Census - Glitches
Census -6-              Census Takers
                        Can’t Find Them?
Census -7-              Census Day
                        Special Notes
                        Other Important Information
Census -8-              Colonial, Territorial, and State Census Records
Census -9-              Schedules
Census -10-             1790, 1800, 1810, 1820 Census
Census -11-             Census Information Summary  1820 to 1940
Census -12-             Earlier Censuses and Printed Indexes
                        Locating the Entry
Census -13-             U.S. Federal Census Soundex
                        How to use the Soundex
Census -14-             Subsequent Rules
Census -15-             To search for a Particular Surname. 
Census -16-             Soundexed Censuses


Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources
    Primary Source is one which had its origin with someone directly involved with the event 
being reported near the time of the event. Examples are: a birth certificate, the death 
information on a death certificate, a marriage certificate, and some of the information 
on a census return. The birth information on a death certificate isn't primary because 
it is being recorded many years after the birth, quite probably by someone who wasn't 
present at the birth. The residence of a person is about the only primary source on a 
census return because the ages, birth places and other dates are all being recorded long 
after they happened (and could have been given to the census taker by the neighbor if 
the family didn't  happen to be at home!). 
    Secondary source is everything else and should be used as clues. An obituary is a 
secondary source. Except for the death date and funeral information, all the information 
is given by someone who was not present when the event happened. 
A tombstone presents a different type of source! It's obvious that the birth date is 
a secondary source, but if it's a new stone with an old death date (meaning the stone
wasn't erected at the time of the death), it is definitely a secondary source. 
If you come up with two or three dates for a person's birth consider when each was 
recorded and choose the one that was recorded closest to the time of the birth. This
isn't a 100% guarantee that it's right, but the odds are better that it is. 
In law another name for primary evidence is "best evidence". The best evidence 
available must be considered before judgment is made. A book on this subject is 
"Genealogical Evidence" by Noel C. Stevenson (Laguna Hills: Aegean Press, 1989). 
The author is a lawyer and a genealogist.

Background Information about the Federal Census
Censuses are taken:
•       1) for taxes
•       2) for apportioning the seats of the US House of Representatives.
•       3) originally (1790) to provide information on men eligible for the military.  
We had only recently gained our independence from England and the men of the day 
knew it was important to assemble a viable military, if the need arose. 

In 1790 the US became the first country in the world to call for a regularly held 
census. George Washington signed the papers making this act a law in 1790.  
The Constitution directs that there will be "an enumeration of inhabitants", 
and nothing more. However, the Census has evolved and now we can learn much more 
than just the number of people who live in our country

In 1790, the U.S. population was 3,231,533. Not including slaves or untaxed Indians.  
    Free Persons - Indians living on treaty land were not taxed and did not vote.  
Indians who lived within the white population were taxed, voted, and were considered 
a “free person.”  
    All Other Persons - Slaves counted as 3/5 of a person when determining 
Congressional Representation.  This was to off-set the large slave population in 
the Southern States. (In 1790 in SC 43% of the population was slaves, in CT it was 1.1%)

The federal census is taken every 10 years, in the year ending with zero.  To 1990, 
the Federal Census has been taken 21 times.  Individual states, however, often took 
their own Census in some of the years between the federal enumeration.  These can 
be a valuable source, especially if you are looking for someone who died betwen 
censuses.  The state census was taken mainly for the purpose of taxation.

Censuses are taken by county and census subdivisions, regardless of how the state or 
territory is organized. Historically, there was no requirement for a specific person 
in the household, or even any person living in the household, to give the information.

Census -1-

        The law states that the census shall remain private for 72 years.  This is 
to encourage truthful answers and accurate information.  Not much of a negative 
consequence could happen after 72 years.  Most of those listed would be gone.  
Because of the 72 year law, the latest Census available to the public is the one 
taken in 1920.

        The process of microfilming and printing takes time, considering the huge
volume of documents.  Due to the 72 year restriction, no one can look at the 
individual data for that period of time.  Thus, the compiling and microfilming 
only begins after 72 years.  It usually takes at least two additional years to
get the work finished and ready for distribution to the public.

        FEDERAL CENSUS RECORDS are perhaps the most-used record in American 
family history research, for a very good reason: no other record consistently 
reports the structure of virtually every family in the United States, 
regardless of race, creed, economic status, location, or citizenship. 
Furthermore, a census may be the only record in which a family can be located, 
whether because they owned no land, or because the records of the county in 
which they lived have been destroyed.

        The purpose of obtaining and using census records is to develop the 
composition of the famiLY. You can use census records to find out: 

        Where your family was in any ten-year span.
        Other information at that location (birth, marriage, death). 
        Locate lost and found children, siblings, parents, and grandparents.
        To fill in the blanks on your family group records and pedigree charts. 

The United States Census is an extremely valuable tool in genealogy research. 
Several censuses give not only names, ages and birthplaces, but also state the 
relationship of people within a household. Depending on the questions asked 
in that particular census, you may also learn when your ancestors came to the 
U.S., if and when they were naturalized, how many children a woman gave birth 
to and other vital pieces of information.

In the U.S., a census has been taken every 10 years from 1790 through 1990. 
All censuses taken after 1920 are still confidential and the information they 
contain is not open to the public.  The census from 1790 through 1840 only 
named the head of the household and the numbers of people in categories - 
3 males over 16, 2 males under 16, etc. The census from 1850 through 1920 
lists each member of the household and usually gives the relationship to t
he head of the house. It also gives age (later years give birth month and 
year) and place of birth (usually just the state or foreign country). The 
1890 census was almost totally destroyed by fire so there is a 20 year gap 
between 1880 and 1900.



        Start with yourself and work backwards generation by generation.  
Write down what you already know.  With this information in hand, you can 
start your journey through census records.  Too often a new researcher will 
want to start with great-grandfather because he did something outstanding 
in his lifetime.  Recording information about yourself and each generation
 allows you to gather information as you progress, and in the long run you 
will find out even more about great-grandfather

       A beginning genealogist will probably have information on at least 
some relatives who were alive in 1920..  Start with the 1920 census and 
work back as more names are found and linked.  The more recent the record, 
the more information.  Don't overlook any possibilities!  Always look for
 all pertinent surnames in each census record you check. 

      People are enumerated in a census by year, then state, then county, 
then enumeration district. You must know the state to begin a search. 
Within the 1850-1920 period, unless you know a fairly exact location, 
the most important consideration is the existence of an index.

Census -2-


        1)       Pedigree Charts and Family Group Records (include siblings' records) 
        2)       Search area and year (ex.,  Daviess County, Missouri, 1870) 
        3)       Something on which to document the census record (forms, copies) 
        4)       A logical search pattern (ex.,  birth, marriage, death) 
        5)       Soundex coding for surnames (1880-1920) 

        The census gives a lot of information and you should try to find your 
ancestors in as many censuses as possible. If you have the name of your 
great-grandfather, but nothing else except the names of all his children, 
try to locate as many children as possible in census returns. You may find 
him living with a married child in later returns. From this you will know 
where he was born and approximately when. 
        Take note of the names near your ancestor's. If you find a 35 year 
old man and family and two or three households away, a 65 year old man of 
the same surname with his 60 year old wife, there is a good possibility 
they are related. If you are looking for the parents of the younger man, 
it would be worthwhile checking the property and probate records of the 
older man and looking for an obituary for him. Even if you find your ancestor 
as a 13 year old in a census, you should look back to the previous census 
where he was 3.  Sometimes people would adopt a nickname or middle name at 
an early age and use that exclusively throughout life. 
        If you were not able to find a birth record for Hank Smith, you may 
find that as a 2 or 3 year old child he was listed as Charles Henry Smith. 
This indicates that the birth was probably registered as Charles and you 
won't ever find a record for Hank.  Looking at as many returns as possible
may also give you a pattern of migration. The oldest children might be born 
in Pennsylvania, the second 2 in Ohio and the younger ones in Indiana.

THE 20/20 RULE
        When you find your ancestor in the census, make note of the 20 families
before and the 20 after them on the census.  The concept is that people moved
in packs.  They left an area with their neighbors and family branches to start 
a ready made community in a new area.

        Then, when you want to find them on the census before that one, scan 
the 41 families for the most unusual names...i.e. "Oliver Twiddledee" and look
for Oliver in the previous census.  More than likely, you will find your "John 
Smith" living in the same area.  Don't forget to be on the lookout for surnames 
connected by marriage.  (Your grandmother's sister probably married and has a 
different surname.)  


  •       Compare the information given with what you already have. 
  •       Write down the discrepancies in your notes.
  •       Write down the citation source in your notes for each person listed in citation. 
  •       Look at the new information.  It should give you new areas of where to 
                look for more information.
  •       Plan your next attack, genealogy is like a chess game, it plays to have a strategy

Census -3-


1.      LDS FHC -   A complete selection of Federal and State Census records 
are available on loan from the  Family History Library in Salt Lake City 
through your local Family History Center (operated by the Church of Jesus
Christ Latter Day Saints).  Although the microfilm is housed primarily in
the main library in Utah, Family History Centers are housed in many churches 
all over the United States and people of all faiths are welcome to use the 
vast collection of genealogical materials collected by the church.  The size 
and locality of the records housed at each FHC varies.  If the microfilm you 
need is not on the premises, it can be rented for a nominal fee from the 
library in Utah.  Workers at the library will assist you in the process. 
Some branch libraries can get them on loan from the Federal Archives and 
Record Center also. 

2.      National Archives -  All U.S. censuses are available at the 11 
offices of the  National Archives.  In Seattle, the Federal Archives Center
 is at Sand Point The Federal Archives and Record Center makes available 
all federal Census records as well as many other records housed in the National 
Archives.  You can request a list of available records.  In addition, you can 
visit the National Archives in Washington, DC or write to the following 
address and request form NATF-82:
                        Reference Services Branch (NNIR),
                        National Archives and Record Service,
                        8th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.,
                        Washington, DC 20408

3.      Public Library -  Public libraries also keep census records.  They 
can be found in books as well as on microfilm.  Many states have indexes for
each census year.  These records can be viewed by the public and are usual
kept in the "Local History" or "Genealogy" section of the library  Few, if
any, house records for the entire country.  Generally, in-house records are 
indigenous to the area.  These libraries often have a way to order additional
microfilm from an outside source for a nominal fee. 

4.      Commercial Purchase of Census Films -  (i.e. AGLL) There are several 
companies that make Census records available to rent or purchase. 
Advertisements for these sources can be found in most genealogical 

5.      Internet -   Don’t expect to find actual records (if you do, you 
will be pleasantly surprised), but they do have the microfilm catalogs index, 
where you can find what roll you need to look at.


There are three ways to record Census Information.
        Citation: Write it down.  Be sure to include theYear, state,
county, township, post office, roll #, ED#, page #, family #, line #, 
enumeration date, and research date.  The objective is to list your source 
so others can easily find it.

        Forms:  If you are using a specific year form, just fill in the blanks 
(adding other information).  Pay special attention to the surrounding households. 
If you are using a generic form, write down the information in the order you find
it on the record.  There are blank census forms available at LDS Family History 
Centers and many county libraries.   (Some publications have them for sale also)  
This will give you a permanent addition to your files, which you can review at 
any time in the future to refresh your memory. Not all locations will have copying 
equipment so it's good to be prepared with blank forms. 

        Copy:  No mistakes of writing things down, and you can get the surrounding 
households on the full sheet.

Census -4-

•       Don't limit your search to direct ancestors only.  Find out about 
        their siblings and their families.
•       Printed indexes don't always list every head of household.  Sometimes 
        whole counties are missing in some indexes.
•       Don’t Assume Anything! 
•       Limiting your search to just the one county and not looking at the
        surrounding counties.
•       Location names and boundary changes.
•       Different spellings of surnames (ex., Samuel Fitzgerald listed under 
        G for GERALD, Fitz Samuel.)

Keep in mind how the census was taken and how the indexes were created. 
It was a very inexact science! Because of all of the potential human errors,
it is important to check as many censuses as possible. 

Limitations of the Census Schedules
1.   Time.
        a. No Federal census was taken before 1790 in the U.S.
        b. The earlier the census, the fewer questions were asked. The first 
one only asked 7 questions.  Records before 1850 (1790-1840) only listed head 
of household, and the oldest person listed is not always the head.

2.   Incompleteness
        a. Some families were missed, due to the length of time it took 
to take the census, or people were away      
visiting relatives, or some families lived in multi-dwelling 
units and were overlooked, etc.
        b. Parts of the censuses were lost or destroyed.

3.   Indifferent enumerators
        a. Many census takers were poorly trained or didn't 
            take their responsibility seriously.
        b. Instructions were not followed (i.e. initials 
            only, no birth places listed, etc.)
        c. The census taker took the information orally. 
        d. He was probably in a hurry, 
        e. Unfamiliar abbreviations and ditto marks (i.e. Conn., Ct., Cn., Cnct. 
            were all used for Connecticut).
        f.  If adults were not home enumerator got information from small children 
            or neighbors or guessed the answers himself.
        g. Padded population.

4.   Incorrect information given by family members:
        a. memory might be poor (most people did not read or write)
        b. lack of understanding the question., (ex., age, name, place of birth, 
            relationship to head, left outfamily members, other people or children 
            listed as family.
        c. Many of the foreign immigrants had heavy accents and most families were large.  
        d. He didn't always ask how to spell a name - and many people were illiterate. 
            The Polish letters prz are pronounced something like "pzsh" and an 
            enumerator who didn't speak Polish might transcribe 
            them as psz or pzsh which means they will never turn up under 
            the expected Soundex code.Many letters can sound alike - G and K, C 
            and K, C and S, F and S, GR can become CR, etc.

5.   Place of residence must be known
        a. If census has not been indexed then at least the county must be 
            known to start a search.
        b. If your ancestor lived in a large city, you will have to know which 
            part of the city or "ward" he lived in, in order to search the census.  

6.   Quality of materials available
        a. The quality of microfilm can be poor, making copy too dark or too 
small or otherwise unreadable.  (this may be due to poor photography, double 
papers or pages filmed, making writing too small,etc.).Also filmer might miss 
a page by accidentally turning 2 pages.
        b. Poor quality of paper and/or ink, as well as handwriting.

Census -5-

        Who were they?  Everyday people like you and me.   Some were young, 
some old.  In the earlier censuses, they were usually men on horseback, 
carrying their clipboards with blank census sheets ready to be filled with 
information. They may have been school teachers on summer break or farmers 
trying to supplement their income.  They came from all walks of life.  
They all knew how to read and write and they usually lived in the area they enumerated.  

        The government paid them to go door to door  with the goal of 
getting a head count of all people living in the United States.  Then, 
as today, some were excellent workers, producing accurate, legible records.  
They took pains to get all pertinent information and record it on their 
papers.  Others, however, were mainly interested in payday and did less 
than an admirable job.  

        The census taker could walk many different paths to cover his 
territory  There was no instruction on the direction he should take, 
only that he must cover the entire territory assigned to him.  People 
who live on adjoining property might be listed several pages apart, 
depending on the route taken by the enumerator.  In farm land and early 
times, the paths of the census takers often meandered in strange patterns.  

        Possible paths of a census taker 
Workers gathering records in cities usually followed some sort of pattern, 
but even so, people whose backyards were separated only by a picket fence 
might be found recorded many pages apart, depending on the route walked 
by the census taker. 

        The census taker usually interviewed at least one person in the 
household, but if no one was home and the farm was a long way from his 
home, the enumerator may have obtained the information from a neighbor. 
In any case, the person supplying the data may not have known the facts. 
The neighbor may not have known the children's ages or birthplaces or a 
husband may not have known his mother-in- law's place of birth. Many, 
many people are recorded as being born in the wrong state. Anyone may 
assume a person was born in the U.S. because he or she has no accent 
when actually the individual may have been born in a foreign country 
and come to the U.S. as an infant or young child. When an individual 
was asked when he came to the U.S., he probably searched his memory 
and said "oh, about 1883". He didn't consult records and the actual 
year may have been 1887. They probably recited their children's names 
rather quickly and son Georgie may have turned into daughter Georgia.
Many people could be recorded as the wrong sex if they didn't have 
traditional names. A child who had gone to stay with a relative for 
a month, perhaps to help out with a new baby might be counted twice 
- or not at all. Because of all these potential human errors, it is 
important to check as many censuses as possible. 


        If you cannot find your person in an index and you feel 
reasonably confident that he should be there, or if you have no 
other leads, do not hesitate to check the whole county if it is 
a rural area.  A county often takes about one reel and can be 
done in 2-3 hours. 
        If you are researching a name that is not extremely common 
such as Jones, Smith or Brown, it might be worthwhile noting everyone 
with the surname you are looking for - at least the name of the head 
of household and wife, ages and page number. Then you will not have 
to go back if you find your family in that county. If you are looking 
in a large city, it is very difficult to check the entire city. You 
should use city directories and street indexes to try to narrow the 
area. If the people belonged to one ethnic group, a history of the 
city will tell you what areas which nationalities settled in.

        Once you have checked all census returns back through 1850, 
the census becomes less valuable but still can provide evidence. If 
you know your ancestor was born in 1821 and a family of the right 
name in the 1830 census has a 10 year old male, you know that he 
may belong to this family. If the family only consists of people 
over the age of 16, then it is unlikely that the head of this 
household is his father. Slaves were recorded by numbers, usually 
without names, and Native American (Indian) censuses are a separate 
set of records.

Census -6-

Census Day 
        Congress specifies a “census day” and the time allowed to 
take the census.  The census taker was to count the people who lived 
in each house as of the “census day.”  which may include anyone who 
died, or exclude any child born after, the “census day.”  Close 
analysis is imperative here.  (i.e. the census days for 1820 and 
1830 are not exactly 10 years apart.  There is a 2 month difference.  
So, if a person was born between June 1, 1820 and August 7, 1820 the 
child would appear in 1820 as “under 5” and in 1830 as “under 10” 
rather than “of 10 and under 16,” because he would not yet be 10. 

        CENSUS YEAR             CENSUS DAY              TIME ALLOWED
        1790                    2 Aug 1790              9 Months
        1800                    4 Aug 1800              9 Months
        1810                    6 Aug 1810              10 Months
        1820                    7 Aug 1820              13 Months
        1830                    1 June 1830             12 Months
        1840                    1 June 1840             18 Months
        1850                    1 June 1850             5 Months
        1860                    1 June 1860             5 Months
        1870                    1 June 1870             5 Months
        1880                    1 June 1880             1 Month
        1890                    1 June 1890             1 Month
        1900                    1 June 1900             1 Month
        1910                    15 Apr 1910             1 Month 
        1920                    1 Jan 1920              1 Month

1.      1790 census - earliest one taken.  Only heads of families named, parts missing.
2.      1800, 1810, 1820 - parts missing.  Use tax lists to fill in.
3.      1840 census - shows Revolutionary War pensioners and ages
4.      1850 census - first census naming everyone living in family, and the place of birth.    
5.      1870 census - shows details of parentage - if of foreign birth
6.      1880 census - first showing relationship; birthplace of parents, soundex made.
7.      1890 census - 99% destroyed by fire. Use Veterans Schedules, State Census, City Directories  to fill in.
8.      1910 census - only 21 states soundexed
9.      1920 census - most recent census available for research
10.     May be State census in years between Federal censuses.
11.     Mortality schedules: 1850, 1860, 1870 & 1880 census.


Other records to use with or instead of census records:  Tax rolls,
land records, court records, road records, voters' records, militia 
records, church records, school lists, legislative records, ships' 
records, and miscellaneous records.

 Special Federal Schedules - 1885 (Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, 
territories of Dakota, and New Mexico), Mortality Schedules 
(1850-1880); Veterans' (1840, 1890); Slave (1850-1860); Agricultural 
(1840-1910); Manufacturing; Social Statistics (1850-1880); and State Censuses.

Other Censuses 
Many states also had their own census, sometimes at more frequent 
intervals. There are census returns in other countries also. 
Canada and Great Britain have census for every 10 years since 1841. 
There are not nearly as many indexes for these census as for the 
U.S. ones, but there is an online index of the 1871 census for 
Ontario. Because of their 100 year confidentiality rule, only 
1841-1891 are open to the public. They can also be obtained from 
the Family History Library. No matter what area you are researching, 
one of the first resources you should look for is a census. 

Census -7-
Colonial, Territorial, and 
State Census Records

ALABAMA 1801, 1808, 1810, 1818, 1820, 1821, 1823, 1832, 1838, 
    1840, 1844, 1850, 1855, 1866, 1875
ALASKA 1870, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1881, 1885, 1887, 1889, 
    1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907
ARIZONA 1790, 1796, 1864, 1866, 1867, 1869
ARKANSAS 1823, 1829, 1854
CALIFORNIA 1790, 1798, 1836, 1852, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 
    1895, 1897, 1905, 1915, 1925, 1935
COLORADO 1861, 1866, 1885
CONNECTICUT 1636, 1756, 1762, 1774, 1798
DELAWARE 1776, 1798
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 1798, 1803, 1807, 1818, 1867, 1878, 1885,
     1888, 1897, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, 1915,1919
FLORIDA 1790, 1825, 1837, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 
    1915, 1925, 1935, 1945, 1955
GEORGIA 1738, 1740, 1750, 1753, 1756, 1810, 1817, 1824, 1829, 1831, 
    1838, 1845, 1852,1859
IDAHO 1863
ILLINOIS 1787, 1793, 1810, 1818, 1820, 1825, 1830, 1835, 1840, 
    1845, 1855, 1865
INDIANA 1801, 1815, 1820, 1825, 1830, 1835, 1840, 1845, 1850, 1865, 
    1871, 1877, 1883, 1889, 1895, 1901, 1907, 1914, 1921
IOWA 1836, 1838, 1840, 1844, 1846, 1847, 1849, 1851, 1852, 1854, 
    1856, 1859, 1862, 1863, 1865, 1867, 1869, 1873, 1875, 1885, 1895, 
    1905, 1915, 1925
KANSAS 1855, 1859, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925
KENTUCKY  1792, 1798, 1799, 1803, 1807, 1811, 1815, 1819, 1823, 
    1827, 1831, 1835, 1839, 1843, 1847, 1851, 1859, 1867, 1875, 1883, 
    1891, 1899
LOUISIANA 1790, 1805, 1806, 1811, 1813, 1817, 1821, 1825, 1829, 
    1833, 1837, 1841, 1845, 1853, 1858
MAINE 1798, 1837
MARYLAND  1701, 1704, 1708, 1710, 1712, 1755, 1762, 1776, 1778
MASSECHUSETTS 1754, 1764, 1783, 1785-86, 1793, 1798, 1837, 1840, 
    1850, 1855, 1860, 1865, 1870, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925, 
    1935, 1945
MICHIGAN 1799, 1806, 1827, 1834, 1837, 1845, 1854, 1864, 1874, 
    1884, 1894, 1904,1935
MINNESOTA 1830, 1849, 1857, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905
MISSISSIPPI 1774, 1788, 1789, 1792, 1801, 1805, 1808, 1810, 1816, 
    1820, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825, 1830, 1837, 1840-41, 1845, 
    1850-53, 1866, 1880
MISSOURI 1789, 1790, 1796, 1803, 1814, 1817, 1821, 1824, 1828, 
    1832, 1836, 1840, 1844, 1848, 1852, 1856, 1860, 1864, 1868,1876
NEBRASKA 1854, 1855, 1856, 1861, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877, 1878, 
    1879, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885
NEVADA 1861, 1863, 1865, 1867, 1875
NEW HAMPSHIRE 1767, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1786, 1798
NEW JERSEY 1726, 1737, 1738, 1745, 1772, 1798, 1855, 1875, 1885, 
    1895, 1905, 1915
NEW YORK    1698, 1703, 1712, 1714, 1723, 1731, 1737, 1745, 1749, 
    1756, 1771, 1795, 1798, 1801, 1804, 1807, 1814, 1821, 1825, 1835, 
    1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1880, 1885, 1892, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925 
NORTH CAROLINA 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1798
NORTH DAKOTA 1885, 1895,1905,1915,1925
OHIO 1790, 1801, 1802, 1807, 1811, 1815, 1819, 1823, 1827, 1831, 
    1835, 1839, 1843, 1847, 1851, 1855, 1859, 1863, 1867, 1871, 1875, 
    1879, 1883, 1887, 1891, 1895, 1899, 1903, 1907, 1911, 1915
OKLAHOMA  1860, 1890, 1896, 1907
OREGON 1845, 1849, 1851, 1852, 1856, 1857, 1865, 1875, 1895, 1905
RHODE ISLAND 1708, 1730, 1745, 1749, 1755, 1774, 1782, 1798, 1865, 
    1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925, 1935
SOUTH CAROLINA 1798, 1868, 1875
SOUTH DAKOTA 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1925, 1935, 1945
TEXAS 1790, 1815, 1829,1836,1847,1848,1858
UTAH 1851, 1856, 1895
VERMONT 1765, 1771, 1798
VIRGINIA 1623, 1624, 1625, 1634, 1699, 1701, 1703, 1779, 1798
WASHINGTON 1871, 1883, 1885, 1889, 1892
WEST VIRGINIA  (Part of Virginia until 1863)
WISCONSIN 1830, 1836, 1838, 1842, 1846, 1847, 1855, 1865, 1875, 
    1885, 1895, 1905
WYOMING 1905, 1915, 1925
Census -8-


     The various schedules of the census are the questionnaires 
used to gather statistics. Seven schedules were used in one or 
more of the censuses available to the public (1790-1920):

The Population Schedule enumerates the people counted during the 
census. The 1850 and 1860 Censuses used a Schedule of Free 
Inhabitants as its Population Schedule, while the 1890 Census 
used a Family Schedule. 

The Manufactures Schedule, first used in 1810, counts individual 
industries, generally excluding household manufactures .Many 
Manufactures Schedules include the name of the proprietor, making 
them particularly useful in places where the Population Schedules 
are missing. 

First used in 1850, the Mortality Schedule enumerates the people 
who died during the Census Year , gathering medical information 
to be used to help formulate Public Health policy.  In 1850, 
1860, 1870, and 1880, census enumerators were directed to secure 
in addition to the usually required census data, information as
to all persons dying within the 12 months preceding the census
taking.  These lists became known as the "Mortality Schedules".  

The Agricultural Schedule counts farms, gathering information 
about crops and livestock. It's keyed to the Population Schedule, 
and provides detailed information for everyone described as a 
Farmer in the census. Since the majority of America's population 
was rural until fairly recently, your ancestor probably appears 
in an Agricultural Schedule.  The schedule doesn't include family 
information, but it can be used to learn about your ancestor's farm.

Slave Schedules were used in 1850 and 1860, although information 
about the ages of slaves was also collected in 1830 and 1840. 
Unfortunately, the schedules only called for the numbers of 
slaves by age and gender, so using the schedules for slave 
genealogy is quite difficult and subject to frequent 
and significant errors.

Social Statistics 
The Social Statistics Schedule enumerates churches and schools 
in each county. They include no personal information .

Special Schedules 
Three Special Schedules are particularly useful to family 
historians, the so-called  Census of Pensioners  (1840), 
the 1890 Special Schedule--Surviving Soldiers, Sailors, and 
Marines, and Widows, etc and Indian Division schedules .

Census of Pensioners, 1840 
The 1840 Census included on page 2 a space to identify 
Pensioners for Revolutionary or military services, included 
in the foregoing .  The name and exact age of each pensioner 
was requested. The Federal Government published an index to 
the pensioners in 1841 that includes the information from the 
census. Many researchers mistake the index for the special 
census itself, and calculate birth years from 1841 instead of 1840 

Census -9-
1790, 1800, 1810, 1820 Census

US Marshalls were instructed to file original returns 
with the clerks of their district courts, who were 
directed to “carefully preserve them.”  The name lists 
remained in the clerk’s office and the Marshalls’ 
summaries from the various districts were to be sent 
to the President.  In 1830 Congress called for the 
return of the original censuses for the years 1790 to 
1820.  Clerks of the district courts were to send the 
original returns to Washington.  Some clerks had not 
preserved the records as directed, others ignored the 
1830 order to send the records.  Some of these “lost” 
records may still exist, buried in storerooms of some 
federal district courthouse.  For years genealogy experts 
erroneously claimed that the British had burned these 
records in Washington in 1814, so no one even looked 
for them.

This is the current status of the Censuses of 1790 to 1820
ALABAMA * 1790 None Taken * 1800 None Taken * 1810 None Taken * 1820 Lost
ARKANSAS * 1790 None Taken * 1800 None Taken * 1810 None Taken * 1820 Lost
CONNECTICUT * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA * 1790 None Taken * 1800 None Taken * 1810 Lost * 1820 Exists
DELAWARE * 1790 Lost * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
GEORGIA * 1790 Lost * 1800 Lost * 1810 Lost * 1820 Exists with 3 counties missing
ILLINOIS * 1790 None Taken * 1800 Lost * 1810 Randolph Co Exists, 
    St. Clair Co Lost * 1820 Exists
KENTUCKY * 1790 Lost * 1800 Lost * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
LOUISIANA * 1790 None Taken * 1800 None Taken * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
MAINE * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
MARYLAND * 1790 Exists with 3 counties missing * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
MASSACHUSETTS * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
MICHIGAN * 1790 None Taken * 1800 None Taken * 1810 Lost * 1820 Exists
MISSISSIPPI * 1790 None Taken * 1800 Lost * 1810 Lost * 1820 Exists
MISSOURI * 1790 None Taken * 1800 None Taken * 1810 Lost * 1820 Lost
NEW HAMPSHIRE * 1790 Exists missing 13 towns in Rockingham Co and 11 towns in Strafford                 Co. * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
NEW YORK * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
NEW JERSEY * 1790 Lost * 1800 Lost * 1810 Lost * 1820 Lost
NORTH CAROLINA * 1790 Exists missing 3 counties * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists missing 4                   counties * 1820 Exists missing 6 counties
NORTHWEST TERRITORY * 1790 Not Taken * 1800 Lost Washington Co Exists * 1810 Not                        Taken * 1820 Not Taken
OHIO * 1790 Not Taken * 1800 Not Taken * 1810 Lost * 1820 Exists
PENNSYLVANIA * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
RHODE ISLAND * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
SOUTH CAROLINA * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
TENNESSEE * 1790 Not Taken * 1800 Lost * 1810 Lost * 1820 Nashville Dist Exists, Knoxville                      Dist Lost (20 Eastern Counties) 
VERMONT * 1790 Exists * 1800 Exists * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists
VIRGINIA * 1790 Lost (1790 VA Census Index is actually compiled from county tax lists of VA                     1785-1787) * 1800 Lost * 1810 Exists * 1820 Exists

Census -10-


1820 Census

        A special category was added to the 1820 census to 
determine the number of young men in the US of military age.  
One column is for , “all males 16-26 years of age,”, while
still another is for “all males 16-18 years of age.”  Any 
male enumerated in the 16-18 year category, would also be 
included in the 16 to 26 year category.  Without an understanding 
of this unique category, you may assume that the enumerator
totaled the number of family members incorrectly, or that 
there is ‘extra’ teen aged male in the family.  Instructions 
to the US Marshalls were to not add the white males between 
16 and 18 to the totals because they would be repeated in the
16 to 26 category.

1830 and 1840 

        Starting with the 1830 census, a new law required 
that a second name by name copy of the census be made, one 
to be sent to Washington, the other to be retained by the 
district court.  The copies in Washington are the ones that 
were microfilmed and are now held at the National Archives.  
Some are the originals, others are the copies.  If the 
handwriting remains the same, crossing town and county 
boundaries, or if the names are in alphabetical order, 
you are probably viewing the copy.

1850 to 1870

        In 1850 the first Census Bureau was established to
collect the census schedules and prepare the reports.  The
law was now revised to require 2 additional copies.  The 
original was displayed at the county courthouse and the first 
copy, by county, was sent to the state.  The State or 
territorial Secretary of State then made a “federal copy” 
that was sent to the Census Bureau in Washington.  As a 
researcher, it is important that you remember the films 
you see at the National Archives are copies of the third 
transcription of the information originally given by your 
ancestor, and consider the margin of error.


        For the first time in 1880 the Census Bureau hired 
its own census takers and was given the budget to take full 
control of the entire census.  The federal courts and the 
secretaries of state were no longer involved.  The original 
still stayed with the county, and the first copy went to
Washington.  Enumeration Districts were organized.  New 
information included the relationships of each person to 
the head of household, the birthplace of every person, and 
the birthplace of their parents as well.   


        99% of the original 1890 census was destroyed in a 
fire at the Commerce Building in Washington in the early 1920’s.  
In 1890 the Census Bureau established new format for 
recording information.  Each family was on a separate sheet. 
The volume of paper created was tremendous.  The originals
were to be sent to Washington.  Congress financed only one 
copy and any copies became optional.  If a county wanted a 
set they had to pay the copying costs.  Only Washington 
County, GA is known to have done this.  All of the pieces 
of the census recovered from the fire fit on one roll of 
microfilm.  It is indexed.  

1900 to 1940
      In the 1940’s the accumulated census records were 
becoming a terrific storage problem in Washington.  The Census
Bureau determined the censuses of 1900 to 1940 should be 
microfilmed.  When the filming was complete, the original 
census schedules were burned.    

Census -11-
Earlier Censuses and Printed Indexes 

        The obvious strategy for locating your ancestors on 
census records is to look for them in the state and city and 
on the street that you know they lived. Of course, if you 
knew all that information you might want to quit while you 
are ahead. Really, most people don't know exactly where the 
family lived and that is why the government indexed many of 
the census schedules. The task of indexing census rolls was 
enormous -- in fact it was a Works Progress Administration 
project --so appreciate the contribution of this government 

        Early censuses have been indexed by private companies, 
usually in the form of bound volumes. Since these books are quite 
expensive, most libraries will have a limited collection. (
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has an extensive 
collection, but they do not circulate.) It may pay to visit 
different libraries in your area to find out which indexes 
they carry. An index will usually cover one state, but some 
states have been divided. All states have been indexed for 
1790-1850. The last censuses being indexed are 1860 and 1870. 

        These indexes are printed books, but generally computer 
generated, the majority being done by Accelerated Indexing 
Systems. The data used to produce these books has been 
reproduced on CD-ROM disks (available from Broderbund 
Software). There is a master disk which combines all the
 states that have been indexed by Accelerated Indexing as
 well as names from other CD-ROMS in the collection. The 
master index is a part of Broderbund's FamilyFinder index, 
which is available on-line and also comes with CD-ROM versions 
of their Family Tree Maker software. Once you have located the 
name on the master disk, you can go to the individual disks for 
the complete reference. The individual census disks are available 
for purchase or are available at some libraries. The CD-ROM 
index is handy because it combines all the states. In addition, 
many errors, typos and misspellings in the original books have 
been corrected.

Locating the Entry
        The index will list the name of the head of household, 
give the town and county of residence and page number. Some 
indexes include everyone in the household, but usually it is 
only the head of the household. Since an elderly parent may 
be living with a married child, you may not find him or her 
in the index. Once you locate the entry, note all the 
information from the index - county and township - not just 
the page number. Then go to the list of microfilm rolls for
that state and county and then turn to that page number. 
Be sure you have the right county before you look too closely 
at page numbers. You may have the correct film for the county 
you need, but there may be another county first on the roll 
and each county may have its own set of numbers. 

        A page number is generally a bold number stamped in 
the upper right hand corner. Sometimes there will be
handwritten page numbers and there may even be more than 
one set of stamped numbers. Sometimes every other page is
numbered so your name may not appear on the page with the 
number, but a preceding or following page. If you are having
trouble finding the entry, be sure you are in the right township.

Census -12-


Call before you go to find out what days and hours they are open.  
Make sure that they are open to the general public and find out 
if you need to pay any fees.  Ask for directions and parking information.
Pack a briefcase for your trip.  Bring pens and pencils (some 
places do not allow the use of pens), paper, file folders, forms, 
and any genealogical information of your own that you will need.

Bring a roll of quarters.  You may need to make photocopies, 
use lockers, feed a parking meter, or purchase a mid-afternoon 
snack from a vending machine.

If possible, set aside a day when you will have several hours
free, and start early.  There's nothing more frustrating than 
finding some great information right before you have to leave.

Beginning Genealogy Lessons Parent Directory.
Return to Source List for Genealogy Research or to the Kansas Heritage Group.
Originally posted: 08-May-97. Updated: 15 August 2005.