through 1940 are some of the most valuable records that genealogists use. They
enable researchers to track families in numerous ways, including:
- Migration patterns (or lack
- Size (as they increase or decrease) as children are born, grow up
and move out to form their own households
- Social and economic factors
(professions, trades and real estate)
census records are readily accessible through Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, or even
at your local National Archives. It would be very difficult to find a
researcher who has not used these federal records. However, have you ever used State
census records to find your family?
fulfilled the same purpose as the federal census. They counted people, either
for tax purposes or for allocation of local funding, etc. While Federal census
data was collected during the years ending with “0,” a state census might have
been done during the years ending with “5” or a different number.
censuses provided by the U.S. census bureau, you might reach a different
conclusion altogether. Of the fifty states and the District of Columbia, only
nine states refrained from conducting a state census or special enumeration at
some point in their history. Mississippi, Iowa, Oregon and Washington top the
list with over a dozen different state conducted censuses.
example, both Massachusetts and Illinois administered a census in 1855. The
Massachusetts census is similar to the 1850 federal census. Each member of the
household is enumerated by name, age, sex, occupation, and birthplace. In
Illinois, however, the state census is similar to the 1840 federal census (or
earlier). Only the head of household is enumerated and family members are noted
by tick marks.
are not. Take New Jersey, for example. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New
Jersey conducted state censuses every ten years, starting in 1855 until 1915.
Ancestry’s catalog shows only one New Jersey state census for 1895. This
database contains the digital images of the census. Family Search has three
indexes available: 1885, 1905, and 1915. Unfortunately, none of the images are
online. They are accessible on microfilm for the years 1855, 1865, 1885, 1895,
1905 and 1915. The 1875 census is not available through Family Search. The only
repository with the complete collection of New Jersey state censuses is the New Jersey State
Archives in Trenton.
and those that can be ordered on microfilm from Salt Lake City, most
people have a good chance of finding at least some of the state census records they need. However, it is simply not possible to view every state census in this manner. You can start
planning your next genealogy road trip now or you can contact Genealogists.com.
Our researchers can find and access the state census records that you need in the numerous archives located around the world.
By Deborah Sweeney, who is a genealogist, blogger, and author of several books. She is currently working on a multi-year project to transcribe and publish the World War II letters written by her grandparents. You can find Deborah online at www.genealogylady.net, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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