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Genealogy Guide to the US Census

Census Questions, Maps & Research Guides, 1790–1940


Federal decennial population census schedules, mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, contain a wealth of information for genealogists, historians, and social scientists. Census schedules are of use to the family historian and researcher interested in topics such as Revolutionary War pensioners, Civil War veterans, westward expansion, the status of free and slave labor, regional and local history, immigration, and naturalization. Census records can help answer a multitude of questions about your ancestors, including birth and marriage dates, children's names, social status, occupations, citizenship status, country of origin, and much more.

1940 Census - Released on April 2, 2012, the 1940 U.S. census is the most recent federal U.S. census available to the public.

1930 Census - If If you've ever wondered who your ancestors voted for, what their primary mode of transportation was, and how they received the news of their day — the 1930 census may give you a clue.

1920 Census - The only census to request the year in which a person was naturalized.

1910 Census - The quality of the microfilming of the 1910 census is especially poor when compared to other census schedules.

1900 Census - This is the only census to report the month and year of birth for each person, as well as the first census to report the year of immigration.

1890 Census - Most of this census was destroyed by fire, with only 1% of census schedules surviving.

1880 Census - The first census to identify the relationship of each person to the head of household.

1870 Census - A very important census if you're researching black ancestors, since prior to 1870 slaves were not reported by name, only by age and sex.

1860 Census - Separate slave schedules include the name of each slave owner, the number of slaves owned, and the number of slaves manumitted (freed).

1850 Census - The first US federal census to list each household member by name.

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