Genealogy at a Glance: U.S. Federal Census Records


Author: Meyerink, Kory L.
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 4 pp., folded


Federal censuses have been taken every ten years since 1790. They are the best known and most commonly used of all genealogical records and have the unique ability to identify virtually anyone born in the last 250 years. Because they are so extensive, the careful researcher should be able to find almost every individual and family being sought.

But where are these records located? How do you access them and how do you use them? Moreover, with such a wealth of information as name, age, sex, birthplace, and family relationships, what are their limitations? These questions and more are answered by professional genealogist Kory Meyerink in this addition to our popular Genealogy at a Glance series.

Today, most census research is conducted online, with census images and indexes available from both subscription-based and non-subscription-based websites. Not all websites have a complete collection of census records, of course, and Meyerink identifies the censuses that are available from each website and the nature of the indexes, which are usually linked to the online image of the census page where the individual appears. (All censuses older than 72 years have been indexed, and the recently released 1940 census is in process of being indexed.)

As part of the ongoing Genealogy at a Glance series, this four-page laminated folder also provides 1) tips for research, 2) a list of the best books for further reference, 3) instructions for online research, 4) a bulleted list of census search strategies, and 5) and a description of the major online resources for census research. In keeping with the rest of this distinguished series, this work provides an encyclopedia’s-worth of information in a thimble’s-worth of pages.

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