Census records in the United States have been collected by the federal government systematically since 1790 when 3.9 million persons were counted. The US Bureau of the Census has prepared a number of interesting resources that describe the history and context of the census-taking.
- History & Organization (PDF)
- Historical Statistics
- Population Counts – States & Counties, 1900-1990
- Questionnaires, by year
- Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000 (PDF)
At this time, the census records are available for public viewing in the form of microfilms. In some cases, indexes or transcripts are available. Generally, you will need to know both what state and what county (county locator) you wish to search. Only a small fraction of census records have been indexed/transcribed.
- Ancestry.com – indexes available (fee charged)
- US GenWeb Census Project ® – free
- US GenWeb Census Project (Rootsweb) – free
- 1880 – The records of the 1880 census have been indexed and are available online at www.familysearch.org. Having found a “hit” in the index, the researcher can go to selected libraries in the United States or to a (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) Family History Center and view the handwritten records on microfilm. Be patient, as you may need to order in the microfilm you’re interested in.
- 1890 – Many of the records of the 1890 census were destroyed before microfilms could be prepared – so few are available for research. Seeancestry.com for a brief explanation of this problem. In some states, state-censuses were conducted and they can be consulted.
- 1900 – see our project!
© 2005 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta
Last Updated 6 Jul 2005
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