2014 by Donald R. Snow
Sections of the Class Notes
  • Introduction
  • About Censuses and Why They Are Important
  • Some Articles and Information About Censuses
  • Websites with Censuses Online
  • Principles and Helps For Searching and Using Censuses
  • State Censuses
  • British Censuses
  • LDS Church Censuses
  • Conclusions
This page was last updated 2014-12-15.
Go to  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page , Don's Class Listings Page , Don's Supplementary Class Notes Page .


  1. Donald R. Snow (snowd@math.byu.edu) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These  Census Supplementary Notes  on  Don's Supplementary Class Notes Page  contain additional material than in the  Census Class Notes  on  http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html
  3. Tips:  (1)  To have an icon on your desktop to open your browser and go directly to these notes drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. Censuses are a major source of genealogical information and they help find who is in the family, where they lived, and sometimes additional information such where they were born and their occupations. 

  6. Interesting things in censuses -- check out the occupation shown for Sarah Piersol born about 1801 and living with her son Lewis Piersol in the 1880 US Census -- https://www.familysearch.org
  7. Good reference – "The Census Book" by William Dollarhide, 1991 -- pdf of entire book can be downloaded from HeritageQuest Online -- details below
  8. Why censuses are so helpful in FH
  9. Helpful document -- "United States Federal Census" -- on FamilySearch Wiki -- type in "United States Federal Census" (without the quotes) and it's the first item 
  10. Types of censuses we will discuss -- federal, state, and church
  11. Availability due to privacy laws
    1. In US, after 72 years, so up through 1930 available now; 1940 will be released Apr 2012
    2. In UK, after 100 years, so up through 1911 available now
  12. For questions asked in each US census
    1. See census forms on FamilySearch's Learn (Wiki)-- type in "US Federal Censuses" (without the quote marks) on the "Learn" page
    2. Also in Dollarhide's "The Census Book", on Ancestry.com, on the PAF CDs from the Distribution Centers, and several other places
  13. Dates the US censuses were supposedly taken -- refer  https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/United_States_Census   
    1. 1790-1820 - First Monday in August
    2. 1830-1880 - 1Jun
    3. 1890 - First Monday in June -- most of this census was destroyed by a fire in 1921
    4. 1900 - 1Jun
    5. 1910 - 15 Apr
    6. 1920 - 1Jan
    7. 1930 - 1 Apr
    8. 1940 - 1 Apr
  14. Enumeration Districts -- geographical census areas -- refer  https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Finding_a_Person_in_the_1930_Census_%28Even_Without_An_Index%29 
  15. Mortality Schedules: people who died during the year before the census was taken -- refer  https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/United_States_Census_Mortality_Schedules

  17. US Census Research for Genealogists -- http://www.1930census.com/index.php
  18. Links to online censuses -- http://www.census-online.com/
  19. FamilySearch Historical Records collections -- https://www.familysearch.org/ -- will eventually have all US Census indexes
  20. Linkpendium -- Search for state and county -- http://www.linkpendium.com/
  21. WikiPedia articles -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Census (includes table with exact census dates) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Census_Bureau
  22. Cyndi's List for U.S. Censuses -- http://www.cyndislist.com/census.htm
  23. Cyndi's List for International Censuses -- http://www.cyndislist.com/census2.htm
  24. Many articles about Censuses on Ancestry.com Library which is free even to non-subscribers
    1. http://library.ancestry.com/ search.aspx?srch=census&ti=0&submit=Search
    2. U.S. Censuses available on Ancestry.com -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/6116.asp
    3. State Censuses available on Ancestry.com -- http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/census/ais/censuslist.htm
    4. Stephen P. Morse's info and search engine for U.S. censuses -- http://www.stevemorse.org/
    5. Federal vs. State Censuses -- Including 1885 -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/columns/george/6888.asp
    6. Census Questions and Research Tips -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/1264.asp
    7. American Census Records -- http://rwguide.rootsweb.com/lesson9.htm
    8. Sensible Use of the Census, Parts 1 and 2:  http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/ancmag/2147.asp
    9. Online Strategies: Part 1 -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/7815.asp
    10. and Part 2 -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/7851.asp
    11. Census Retrospective -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/8305.asp
    12. Every Name or Head of Household Index? -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/7949.asp
    13. 1870 Census Finds -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/7636.asp
    14. 1891 Census of England -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/6623.asp
    15. Back to the 1891 (UK) Census Online -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/7521.asp
    16. Where, Oh Where is Abraham? -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/7120.asp
    17. A Partially Correct Census Index Entry -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/6901.asp
    18. Panning for Panagiotis: An Urban Census Problem with A Twist -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/6742.asp
    19. Categorizing Pre-1850 Census Records -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/6178.asp
    20. Analyzing Pre-1850 Census Records: Part II -- http://www.ancestry.com/library/view/news/articles/6195.asp


  25. https://familysearch.org -- under Historical Records -- will eventually have all US census indices and also images, where they have permission
  26. http://www.familysearch.org/eng/default.asp (Classic FamilySearch.org) -- US 1880, Canada 1881, UK 1881 -- under Search Records > Advanced Search -- can still download GEDCOMs from these (can't from the new FS website)
  27. HeritageQuest Online -- all US census images, many indices
    1. Differences between indices and images on Ancestry.com and HQO
    2. Dollarhide's "The Census Book" -- contains all the forms; can be downloaded in pdf; look in Helps
    3. See Don's HeritageQuest Online notes posted on http://uvpafug.org > Class Outlines > Don Snow's Listings -- how to log on, do census searches, saving and printing, etc.
    4. Use your Washington County library card barcode, for example, and log on via the Washington County Library website -- http://library.washco.utah.gov/
    5. Get the (NARA) census series, roll, and page numbers elsewhere and then see the image on HQO at home for free
    6. Conversion table for NARA and FHL census film numbers at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/NARA_and_FHL_film_numbers
  28. Ancestry.com -- all US and UK censuses and images -- http://ancestry.com -- available at all FHCs again now
    1. Complete list of Ancestry.com's censuses and indices: http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/census/ais/censuslist.htm
    2. Steven Morse's One-Step search engine for Ancestry.com -- http://www.stevemorse.org/census/ancestry.html -- (http://www.stevemorse.org/)
  29. WorldVitalRecords -- http://worldvitalrecords.com/ -- all US census images and many indices -- available at FHCs
  30. Footnote -- http://www.footnote.com/ -- some US census images and indices -- available at FHCs -- recently purchased by Ancestry, but seems to still be a separate website
  31. Genealogy.com -- http://www.genealogy.com/index_n.html -- commercial site, has all the census images, some indices
  32. Marie Taylor's web site -- http://www.warnes.net/Teslacorp/GenealogyLinks > 4-US Census tab -- Website is no longer online, but you can view the old versions on the Internet Archive -- https://archive.org/ -- shows what's available in FHL and FHCs and gives FHL film numbers

  34. For FamilySearch Family Tree the freeware FamilySearch certified program TreeSeek -- https://treeseek.com/ -- will check Family Tree ancestors and show which have the appropriate US censuses as sources and which you need to add
  35. Start with minimal info and add more to narrow down the search as needed -- reason is errors in the entry, e.g. misspellings, may cause you to miss the entry entirely if you have entered too much info
  36. In most indices you can do advanced searches with only first names, places, occupations, and use wildcards
  37. Check the neighbors for relatives since extended family members frequently lived nearby
  38. Follow the family through all appropriate censuses -- can sometimes find these easily with head of household indices, e. g. HQO
  39. Census forms and worksheets are available
    1. On FamilySearch > Learn (the Wiki) > US Censuses -- https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/United_States_Census
    2. On FamilySearch/Search/Research Helps/United States -- http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/RG/frameset_rhelps.asp?Page=./research/Placeu/Placeu.asp&ActiveTab=Place
    3. On Ancestry.com at http://www.ancestry.com/save/charts/census.htm
    4. In Dollarhide's Census book on Heritage Quest Online
  40. State and county boundaries change over time -- can make up a series of county boundary change maps by using maps from Dollarhide's "Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census 1790-1920" online at Google Books
  41. Can do printscreens to save the images by using a program such as FastStone Capture (v 5.3 was last freeware version of FastStone Capture -- http://www.aplusfreeware.com/categories/mmedia/FastStoneCapture.html )
  42. Tools available
    1. Spreadsheets from CensusTools -- http://censustools.com
    2. The program GenSmarts -- http://gensmarts.com/ -- analyzes your database and shows you the censuses and other records to search for data you lack -- shows you the form those censuses would have for that family
    3. Soundex -- index by the way the name sounds -- refer https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Soundex

  44. Many states took their own censuses between the federal census years, e.g. in 1885 and 1895 -- see  https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/United_States_Census_State_Censuses  and  http://www.census-online.com/
  45. Check USGenWeb -- http://www.usgenweb.org -- check state and county to see what state censuses there were and which are indexed

  47. List of UK censuses and availability -- http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/census-records.htm
  48. Chart of online and CD UK censuses -- http://www.mit.edu/~dfm/genealogy/census-chart.html
  49. Many UK censuses have been indexed on FamilySearch.org
  50. 1881 UK Census is online at http://www.familysearch.org
  51. FindMyPast has best collection of England and Wales censuses 1841-1911 and is available to LDS members and at FHCs -- http://www.findmypast.co.uk/home.jsp 
  52. Can sometimes piece together the family just from the index

  54. See  https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/LDS_Census 
  55. LDS Church censuses were taken 1852-3, 1914, and every 5 years from 1920 to 1960, except 1945 during WW II
  56. Available on microfilm -- see FamilySearch Library catalog for film numbers you need

  58. It is interesting to find yourself or your parents in the US censuses for those born before 1940.
  59. A good goal for your family history is to follow each family in the censuses -- usually leads to correction of errors in family structures and even finding children not previously known
  60. Keep censuses in mind for verifying, expanding families, and extending pedigrees.

Go to  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page , Don's Class Listings Page , Don's Supplementary Class Notes Page .