Census Records 1790-1940

What's in U.S. Census Records? Clues & Research Tips

with links to online census records and indexes

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The U.S. Federal Census Records contain many clues to help genealogy researchers find information about their ancestors. This webpage shows the basic information given for each census by year with links to online census records and indexes. Sources are listed at the bottom of the page, along with a guide for searching census records offline using National Archives (NARA) and LDS microfilm.

1940 Census
Official census day: 1 April 1940

Total Population: 132,164,569

The 1940 Census was released to the public on 2 April 2012

Summary of the Information Given in the 1940 Census and Where to Find the Records Online


1930 Census
Official census day: 1 April 1930 (the official start day was 1 April, but the Census Bureau began taking the census on 2 April, except for Alaska, which began on 1 Oct 1929)

Total Population: 123,202,624

The 1930 Census was released to the public on 1 April 2002


1930 Census Finding Aids...
  • Online 1930 Census Index & Images (requires payment)
    The 1930 Census is indexed online for every state and territory at Ancestry.com. Includes more than 123 million names linked to digitized census images.

  • 1930 Census Finding Aids & Research Tips
    Here you will find help for searching the 1930 census online and off. Includes information about using circa 1930 city directories, maps, an online microfilm locator and more.
Only ten states and portions of two others have been indexed on microfilm (by head of household using the soundex system). But all states have been indexed online (see the above link). The ten states indexed on microfilm are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee & Virginia.

The Kentucky and West Virginia counties that have been indexed on microfilm are... Kentucky Counties: Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Kenton, Muhlenberg, Perry & Pike; West Virginia Counties: Fayette, Harrison, Kanawha, Logan, McDowell, Mercer & Raleigh.

For each person listed in the 1930 Census, the entry shows:
  • address
  • name ("of each person whose place of abode on April 1, 1930, was in this family...Include every person living on April 1, 1930. Omit children born since April 1, 1930")
  • relationship to head of household
  • home owned or rented
  • value of home or monthly rental
  • radio set
  • whether on a farm
  • sex; race (W=White, Neg=Negro, Mex=Mexican, In=Indian, Ch=Chinese, Jp=Japanese; Fil=Filipino, Hin=Hindu, Kor=Korean, "other race, spell out in full"/for Indian: whether of full or mixed blood, and tribal affiliation)
  • age at last birthday
  • marital status, age at first marriage
  • school attendance; literacy
  • birthplace of person and parents
  • if foreign born, language spoken in home before coming to the U.S.
  • year of immigration
  • whether naturalized (Na=Naturalized, Pa=First Papers, Al=Alien)
  • ability to speak English
  • occupation, industry, and class of worker
  • whether at work previous day (or last regular working day) - if not, line number on unemployment schedule (these schedules no longer exist)
  • veteran status (WW=World War, Sp=Spanish-America War, Civ=Civil War, Phil=Philippine Insurrection, Box=Boxer Rebellion, Mex=Mexican Expedition)
  • number of farm schedule (these schedules no longer exist, except for Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico)

1920 Census
1 January 1920 (date census taking began)

Total Population: 106,021,537

Online Index: 1920 Every Name Census Index & Images at Ancestry.com (requires payment) Linked to Digitized Census Images
Also includes 1790-1940 Census Indexes & Images

All states (and territories) have also been indexed on microfilm by head of household using the soundex system

Each household is entered on a sheet showing the name of the township, name of the incorporated place, if any, and city ward, if any. For households in urban areas, the street and number are given.

For each person listed the entry shows:
  • name
  • relation to head of household
  • whether home owned or rented; if owned, whether free or mortgaged
  • sex; color or race (W=white, B=black; Mu=mulatto; In=Indian; Ch=Chinese; Jp=Japanese; Fil=Filipino; Hin=Hindu; Kor=Korean; Ot=Other); age at last birthday
  • marital status
  • year of immigration (column 13 on the census form)
  • whether naturalized or alien (column 14: A or AL=Alien; NA=Naturalized; NR=Not Reported; PA=First Papers Filed); if naturalized, year of naturalization (column 15)
  • whether attended school since 1 September 1919
  • whether able to read; whether able to write
  • birthplace (state, territory or country), and mother tongue
  • birthplaces (state, territory or country) and mother tongues of parents
  • whether able to speak English
  • trade, profession or type of work done
  • employed in what industry
  • employer, salary or wage worker, or working on own account
  • number of farm schedule

1910 Census
15 April 1910

Total Population: 92,228,496

Online Index: 1910 Every Name Census Index & Images at Ancestry.com (requires payment) Linked to Digitized Census Images
Also includes 1790-1940 Census Indexes & Images

Online Index: State of Washington 1910 Census Index (free to search)

Only 21 states have been indexed on microfilm (by head of household using the soundex system)
these are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia -- a microfilmed soundex index is also available for Oregon from the LDS Family History Library

Each household is entered on a sheet showing the name of the township and city ward, if any. For households in urban areas, the street and number are given.

For each person listed the entry shows:
  • name
  • relation to head of household
  • sex; color or race; age at last birthday
  • marital status; number of years of present marriage
  • number of children born (to the wife, widow or divorcee)
  • number of those children living
  • birthplace (state, territory or country), if foreign born, mother tongue
  • birthplaces (state, territory or country) of parents
  • year of immigration
  • for foreign born males 21 years old or older: whether naturalized or alien (AL=Alien, PA=First Papers Filed; NA=Naturalized)
  • whether able to speak English
  • occupation; employed in what industry
  • whether out of work on 15 April 1910
  • number of weeks out of work during 1909
  • whether able to read and write
  • whether able to attend school at any time since 1 September 1909
  • whether house is owned or rented; a farm or house; whether it is mortgage free
  • whether a survivor of Union or Confederate Army or Navy (column 30 - UA=Survivor of the Union Army; UN=Survivor of the Union Navy; CA=Survivor of the Confederate Army; CN=Survivor of the Confederate Navy)
  • whether blind, deaf or dumb

1900 Census
1 June 1900

Total Population: 76,212,168


Online Index: 1900 Every Name Census Index & Images at Ancestry.com (requires payment) now completed for all states & territories: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indian Territory, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Military & Naval Forces, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin & Wyoming (also includes 1790-1940 Census Indexes & Images)

All states have also been indexed on microfilm by head of household using the soundex system


For each household, an entry shows the name of the township, city and ward, if any, and the street and house number, if in an urban area.

For each person listed the entry shows:
  • name
  • relation to head of household
  • color; sex; month and year of birth, and age at last birthday
  • marital status; number of years married
  • for married women, number of children born and number of those children living
  • birthplace (state territory or country), father's birth; mother's birth
  • citizenship: year of immigration to the US (column 16); number of years in the US (column 17); whether still an alien, having applied for citizenship, or naturalized (column 18: AL=Alien, PA=First Papers Filed, NA=Naturalized)
  • occupation of each person 10 and older, and number of months not employed
  • information about school attendance, literacy and ability to speak English
  • whether residence was a farm; whether occupant was a homeowner

1890 Census
1 June 1890

Total Population: 62,979,766

The 1890 census was destroyed or badly damaged in a fire in Washington in 1921. Less than 1 per cent survived - 6,160 total names, which are available on 3 rolls of microfilm. This 1890 census link will take you to a listing of what records survived the fire.

In 1890 a special census of Civil War Union veterans and widows of veterans was taken. This is available on microfilm or can be searched online at Ancestry...

1890 Civil War Union Veterans & Widows Census Index & Images (requires payment) also includes 1790-1940 census indexes & images

1890 Census Substitute (requires payment)
Ancestry has been acquiring and posting assorted records to help find ancestors around the time of the 1890 census. It includes fragments of the original 1890 census that survived the fire, special veterans schedules, several Native American tribe censuses for years surrounding 1890, state censuses (1885 or 1895), city and county directories, alumni directories, and voter registration documents.



1880 Census
1 June 1880

Total Population: 50,189,209

Online Index: 1880 Census Records Index & Images at Ancestry.com (the 1880 census index is free with registration - viewing images requires payment) an Ancestry subscription also includes 1790-1940 census indexes & images

All states have also been indexed on microfilm using the soundex system; however only those households with children aged 10 or under are listed in the microfilmed index.


For each urban household, an entry shows the name of the street and house number.

For each person in a household the entry shows:
  • name
  • whether white, black, mulatto, Indian or Chinese; sex; age; month of birth if born within the year
  • relation to head of household
  • occupation and months unemployed
  • name of state, territory or country of birth; father's birthplace; mother's birthplace
  • school attendance within the year
  • inability to read if aged 10 or older; inability to write if aged 10 or older
  • whether sick or temporarily disabled on the day of enumeration and the reason

1870 Census
1 June 1870

Total Population: 38,558,371

Online Index: 1870 Every Name Census Index & Images at Ancestry.com (requires payment) also includes 1790-1940 census indexes & images
Online Index: Colorado 1870 Census Index (free)
Online Index: Maryland State Archives Census Indexes - includes 1870 (free)
Online Index: Michigan 1870 Census Index & Images (free -- includes census images in PDF format that you can download)
  • name
  • age at last birthday
  • sex; color (W=White, B=Black, M=Mulatto, C=Chinese, I=Indian); profession, occupation or trade
  • value of real estate; personal property
  • place of birth (state, territory or country)
  • whether father is of foreign birth; whether mother is of foreign birth
  • month of birth if born within the year
  • month of marriage if married within the year
  • whether attended school within the year
  • whether can read; write
  • whether deaf, dumb, blind, insane or idiotic
  • whether male citizen of the US aged 21 years and up
  • whether male citizen of the US aged 21 years and up whose right to vote was denied or abridged on other grounds than rebellion or other crime

1860 Census
1 June 1860

Total Population: 31,443,321

Online Index: 1860 Every Name Census Index & Images at Ancestry.com (requires payment) also includes 1790-1940 Census Indexes & Images
  • name
  • age; sex; color (white, black or mulatto)
  • occupation of persons over 15
  • value of real estate; value of personal estate
  • place of birth (state, territory or country)
  • whether person was married during the year
  • whether deaf-mute, blind, insane, an idiot, a pauper or a convict
Separate slave schedules show:
  • name of slave owner
  • number of slaves owned
  • number of slaves manumitted (freed)
  • under the slave owner's name a line for each slave shows: age, color, sex, whether deaf-mute, blind, insane, idiotic or a fugitive from the state; names of slaves were not entered

1850 Census
1 June 1850

Total Population: 23,191,876

Online Index: Online 1850 Census Index & Images at Ancestry.com Every Name Index (requires payment)
A subscription also includes 1790-1940 Census Indexes & Images

  • name of each free person in a household
  • age; sex; color (white, black or mulatto)
  • occupation of males over 15
  • value of real estate owned
  • place of birth (state, territory or country)
  • whether person attended school or was married within the year
  • whether the person could read or write if over 20
  • whether deaf-mute, blind, insane, an idiot, a pauper or a convict
  • separate slave schedules contain the same information as the 1860 census



1790-1840 Census - Notes
The US census records from 1790 to 1840 only name the head of each family. Other household members are grouped together by age and gender, but their names are not given. When researching in this time frame it is essential to locate other records, particularly probate records (which often name the spouse and children), church records, land & property records, etc. These early census records are still useful for locating families in a specific place.

Online Index: US Federal Census Index & Images 1790-1840 at Ancestry.com (requires payment) also includes indexes & images for 1850-1930



1840 Census
1 June 1840

Total Population: 17,069,453
  • head of household
  • number of free white males and females categorized by age group
  • number of free colored males and females by age group
  • number of male and female slaves by age group
  • number of persons in each family engaged in various occupations
  • names and ages of military pensioners
  • number of both white and colored deaf, mute and blind persons
  • number of students
  • number of scholars at public charge
  • number of free white persons older than 20 who could not read and write

1830 Census
1 June 1830

Total Population: 12,866,020
  • head of household
  • number of free white males and females categorized by age group
  • number of foreigners not naturalized
  • number of free colored males and females by age group
  • number of male and female slaves by age group
  • number of white blind persons and number of blind slaves and colored persons
  • number of white deaf-mutes and number of deaf-mute slaves and colored persons
  • number of white aliens

1820 Census
7 August 1820

Total Population: 9,638,453
  • head of household
  • number of free white males and females categorized by age group
  • number of foreigners not naturalized
  • number of free colored males and females by age group
  • number of male and female slaves by age group
  • number of all other persons except Indians not taxed

1810 Census
6 August 1810

Total Population: 7,239,881
  • head of household
  • number of free white males and free white females categorized by age group
  • number of all other free persons except Indians not taxed
  • number of slaves

1800 Census
4 August 1800

Total Population: 5,308,483
  • head of household
  • number of free white males and free white females categorized by age group
  • number of all other free persons except Indians not taxed
  • number of slaves

1790 Census
2 August 1790

Total Population: 3,929,214

Note: 1790 census records exist for Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia (Virginia schedules were reconstructed from State enumerations)
  • head of household
  • number of free white males ages 16 and older
  • number of free white males under the age of 16
  • number of free white females
  • number of all other free persons
  • number of slaves

Researching Census Records Using Microfilm 1790-1930
Microfilm rolls for US Census records (and the available indexes 1880-1930) are available at the National Archives (NARA), the NARA branches, some libraries, and the LDS Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, which means you can order them from local Family History Centers for viewing and photocopying for a small fee. You can search for the microfilm roll numbers by using the online FHL catalog. Do a place search for the state you are researching, then look through the list of census topics... Place Search in the FHL Catalog

References
  • National Archives Trust Fund Board: Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, NARA, Washington DC, 1985, Pages 11-37
  • National Archives Trust Fund Board: The 1930 Federal Population Census, Catalog of National Archives Microfilm, NARA, Washington DC, 2002, Pages viii-xix; 2-9
  • National Archives Trust Fund Board: The 1920 Federal Population Census, Catalog of National Archives Microfilm, NARA, Washington DC, 1992, Pages vi; 1-2
  • National Archives Trust Fund Board: The 1910 Federal Population Census, Catalog of National Archives Microfilm, NARA, Washington DC, 1996, Page vii
  • National Archives Trust Fund Board: The 1900 Federal Population Census, Catalog of National Archives Microfilm, NARA, Washington DC, 1996, Page vii
  • National Archives Trust Fund Board: The 1790-1890 Federal Population Censuses, Catalog of National Archives Microfilm, NARA, Washington DC, 1993, Page 1
Population figures from the US Census Bureau