Researching American Indians and Alaska Natives

Census Records

Indian Census Rolls

Indian Census Rolls, 1885 - 1940

For researching American Indians at the National Archives, the following records are often used:

Sample from Indian Census Rolls

From Microfilm M595, Indian Census Rolls

M 595, Indian Census Rolls

These records are also known as "Indian Census Rolls," microfilm publication M595. This microfilm is only available at select locations of the National Archives. All National Archives facilities provide free onsite access to these records via Ancestry.com and Fold3.com.

Agents and superintendents at American Indian reservations annually submitted census rolls starting in 1885. These rolls include individuals and families who maintained a formal connection with Federally recognized tribes. To research these records, you will need the name of the individual or family.

The questions found on the Indian Census Rolls and the process for collecting the information were not standardized, and therefore vary between years, tribes, and agents and superintendents. Please note: there is not a census for every reservation or every tribe for every year.

Indian Census Rolls can include:

  • Name (American Indian and/or English)
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Agency /Reservation name
  • Marital status
  • Tribe
  • Family Relation

The Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940, are available online at Ancestry and Fold3. Prior to digitization, these records were accessible via microfilm publication M595. Knowing the tribe can help narrow the search results from Ancestry and Fold3.

For detailed information on the Indian Census Rolls and the microfilm publication.

Canít Find Them? Consider these possible avenues:

  • The name may be spelled differently.
  • There may be transcription errors with indexing.
  • The agents or superintendents at the agency may have inadvertently left the individual or family off of the Census Rolls.
  • The individual or family may not have been identified as American Indian on any Federal government records.

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