Working With Census Reports

Census is taken for the purpose of determining representation in Congress.

Gathering the Data:

  • Workers walked or rode to and through their assigned areas
  • It might take a month to complete a census in a specified area
  • Return trips were made to homes if no one was available the first time
  • After several tries, the neighbors may have been asked the questions
  • In many cases, multiple copies of the reports were done by hand and submitted to different places  [copies mean the risk of transcription errors]
Census Dates
1790August 21870June 1
1800August 41880June 1
1810August 61890June 2
1820August 71900June 1
1830June 11910April 15
1840June 11920January 5
1850June 11930April 1
1860June 11940April 1

Types of Population Census Reports:

  • 1790-1840
    • Heads of Household only with gender based age group counts of other household members
  • 1850-1930
    • All individuals listed with varied amounts of personal data
  • 1940-2010
    • Informant is indicated; Selected lines subject to additional questions

Head of Household Census Reports:

  • Use other sources to confirm correct physical location
  • Track the ‘FAN’ club
    • Friends
    • Associates
    • Neighbors
  • Create a chart to track ages between census reports

Evaluating the Census Data:

  • Look at the neighborhood
    • Types of Houses?
    • Affluent?
    • Ethnicity?
    • Occupations?
  • Do the ages/names line up with other facts gathered?
  • Are the neighbors the same?
  • Is there a non-family member in the household?
  • Where can I confirm this information?

Census Reports Available At:

  • ($)
  • (via a library)
  • Historical Societies
  • Genealogy Libraries
  • State Archives

From Census to Story:

  • Find the Census Reports
  • Make Notes on What the Census Says
  • Write the Census Story
  • Research the Missing Information
  • Confirm the Census Clues
  • Cite Your Sources

In Conclusion:

  • Census reports tell tales
  • Read everything that is written
  • Notice what is not included
  • Understand the time of the census
  • For more detail on codes and terminology, refer to the enumerator’s instructions, available at:

Confirm the Census Clues In…

  • Cemetery Records
  • Church Records
  • City Directories
  • Emigration Records
  • Fraternal Organizations
  • Historical Photographs
  • Immigration Records
  • Local Histories
  • Map / Atlas
  • Military Unit Histories
  • Mortgage Records
  • Naturalization Records
  • Newspaper articles
  • Other Federal Schedules
  • Passenger Lists
  • Pension Records
  • Probate Records
  • Property Deeds
  • School Report
  • Service Records
  • Slavery Records
  • Tax Lists
  • Town Histories
  • Town Records
  • Town Reports
  • Unions
  • Vital Records