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Census Records Websites, Books and Research Resources

By Family Tree Editors Premium

As a genealogist, you’re always looking for ways to either get new data or validate information you already have—and you can count on census records to help you do that. If you know your ancestors came to America in 1845 but can’t find their immigration records, you can check the next available census: 1850. The US government started going door to door to count the country’s population in 1790, and in accordance with federal law, has taken censuses every 10 years since.

Though census records weren’t designed with future genealogists in mind, they provide numerous details about your ancestors. Throughout the years, the amount of information collected by the US Census Bureau has grown steadily: Enumerators posed just six questions in the nation’s inaugural census; the 2000 long-form questionnaire contained 53.

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.

US Census Records Websites

A portion of this list was compiled by Sunny Jane Morton

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Canadian and UK Census Records Websites

  • 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.
  • Ancestry.com 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.

US Census Records Research Online Resources

General Census Research

State-Specific Census Research

  • 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.

A portion of this list was compiled by Kathleen W. Hinckley

A version of this article appeared in the February 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Census Records 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)

A portion of this list was compiled by Sunny Jane Morton

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Portions of the information presented in this article appeared in the September 2005 Family Tree Sourcebook.

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