Census records are easy to search and offer great information about your ancestors. The federal government has taken a census every ten years since 1790. With the exception of 1890, all or part of every census year has survived and is made available to researchers 72 years later. The 1940 census will be released in April, 2012. Don't be surprised to find the names of your ancestral families spelled differently over the years, especially before 1900. Census takers often spelled names as they heard them pronounced-so if you can't find someone under the standard spelling, check for variations. For example, Jemison could be spelled Jamison, Jameson, Jemeson, Jaimison, etc.
Reasons Genealogists Use Census Records
- Identify members of an ancestral family.
- Identify plantation owners who might have owned slaves
prior to 1866.
- Track the movements of a family from one decade to the next.
- Estimate the date a person or family arrived in or
departed from a town, city or county.
- Estimate the year a couple married.
All of the censuses have been microfilmed and you can view those films at any regional branch of the National Archives, the Family History Library of the LDS Church (main library in Salt Lake City or a Family History Center near you), and at any public library or archives with a sizeable genealogy collection. Some county libraries also have census films, but may limit the collection to their own state or county.
Lineages, Inc. can locate your ancestors in any of the censuses and mail you an 11 x 17 printed copy . Want it quicker? We'll e-mail a scanned image of the census.