How do you research your family using the U.S.
How do I obtain a copy of a census film?
- The U.S. Census is available on microfilm at the
Regional National Archives
Many Public Libraries
What if my library doesn't have the census films?
- Ask your librarian to investigate borrowing films
What information can I expect to find in a census?
- From 1790 to 1840, the census was an index. It
only gave the name of the head of the household, and how
many males & females of various ages living there.
- The first real census was made in 1850. All
members of the household were listed.
- The census data changed from census to census
but, generally, the census gives the names of the family
members, their ages, their sex, their place of birth,
their occupation, if they were attending school, if they
could read and write, and if they were deaf, dumb or
- In 1880, there was another innovation. It was
called the Soundex
code. With the soundex, If you know
the state that your ancestor lived in , you can find
almost any person. In addition to the regular census
form, the enumerators filled out another (shorter)
soundex form for each household, which were filed in
How do I use the census?
- If you know the State and County where your
ancestor lived in a census year, you look at the census
film for that county. In the US
GenWeb Census Project State Page,there
are links to each state which will give you the film
numbers for each county in each census year.
- If you know only the State where they lived,
after determining the Soundex
Code you look at the Soundex film
for that code. You can obtain more information by also
looking at the film for the county that you ancestor
Is everything on the census correct?
- No, the enumerators were, human, sometimes they
misspelled names, put down the wrong age, or if someone
wasn't home, they left them out or just asked the
- From 1850-1880, a copy of the census was made to
go to Washington D.C., the original one to stay in the
state were it was made. When the Washington D.C copy has
been compared to surviving county copies a many errors
have been found. Unfortunately, most of the microfilms
were made from the copy that was sent to Washington D. C.
Can I go to Washington D.C. and see the original
- No, the censuses up to at least 1940 were
destroyed by the Census Bureau after being microfilmed.
- Why isn't there a census for 1890?
- Almost all of the 1890 census was destroyed in a
fire. Only a few records survived. They were from the
following states: Alabama, District of Columbia, Georgia,
Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North
Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. The best substitute for
the 1890 census is the State Censuses for that period.
Also, many states kept school records of educable
children, many of these list parents and siblings of each
Why aren't the censuses after 1920 available?
- The census is not released until 70 years after
the census is taken. However, the 1930 census will not be
released until 2003.
Can I find out information from the 1930-1990 census?
Is the Census available on the internet?
- There are some partial transcriptions of the
census on the internet. Many of these can be found in the
What is the US GenWeb Census Project?
- The US
GenWeb Census Project is working to
transcribe all of the census information for all of the
censuses on the internet. We invite you to join us in
this ambitious project!
What about Kansas census information
KsGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward for the limited use of the KsGenWeb
Permission is granted for use only on an official KsGenWeb page.