From Kimberly Powell, your Guide to Genealogy

Census 2010

Question: What can I learn from U.S. census records?

Answer: Digital images of decennial census forms from 1790 through 1940 (information collected from individuals becomes available to the public after 72 years) are available online from a variety of companies. Microfilm copies also exist at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and many larger libraries throughout the United States. In many cases these microfilm copies are being archived, however, since the digitized copies are fairly easy to access online. If you don’t have online access from home, you can access the full run of the 1790–1940 federal census for free on Ancestry Library Edition (available on the computers in many public and university libraries), or at Family History Centers (branch libraries of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City) around the world.

In addition to the U.S. federal census, many local and state governments have conducted censuses at varying times. Not all have done so, however. Many of these census records are only available on microfilm at LDS family history centers, or in the archives of the city/county/state that took the census. Increasingly, they are being digitized and placed online. Look for them on (free) or (subscription), as well as on the website of the state archives.

If your ancestor was a veteran, a farmer, ran a business, was a slave, died the year prior to the census, or was deaf, blind, insane, or poor, you may find even more information about him or her in Special Census Schedules.

Census Research

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