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1790-1890 Federal Population Censuses - Part 1

General Information


See Also:

Article I, section 2, of the U.S. Constitution requires that a decennial population census, a nationwide enumeration or count of the population, be taken every 10 years. Congress uses the census figures to apportion seats in the House of Representatives. The census also determines each state's number of votes in the electoral college, which selects the President and Vice President; and affects apportionment in state and local legislatures. Section 9 provides that "no capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken."

The population schedules, first prepared in 1790, contain a wealth of information for historians, economists, and other researchers interested in topics such as Revolutionary War pensioners, Civil War veterans, western expansion, regional and local history, immigration, and naturalization.

To ensure the privacy of individuals, Congress has provided for a 72-year restriction to access of Federal census schedules. The 1920 census was released in 1992; the 1930 census will be opened in 2002. To obtain specific nonrestricted data from post-1920 censuses, use Bureau of the Census Form BC-600, Application for Search of Census Records. Copies of BC-600 are available from the Bureau of the Census, P.O. Box 1545, Jeffersonville, IN 47131.

This catalog lists the microfilmed copies of the original 1790-1890 schedules and the published 1790 schedules.

All of the microfilm catalogs available through the National Archives Web site are also offered in printed form. For ordering information, please contact Product Sales Section (NWPS), National Archives and Records Administration, Room G7, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20408-0001; telephone 1-866-272-6272 or 202-501-7190.

Microfilm copies of the 1790-1930 population schedules are available for sale. See instructions in the section Census Availability and Access.

Microfilmed copies of census schedules are located in the Microfilm Research Room in the National Archives Building, which is on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, between Seventh and Ninth Streets in Washington, DC, as well as the 13 National Archives regional records services facilities. A list of the regional facilities, their addresses, telephone numbers, and other information is provided at the end of this introduction.

Many state and local archives, libraries, and genealogical or historical societies; many of the Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons); and other institutions have purchased all or some of the census microfilms. Information on many of these institutions appears in Alice Eichholz, ed., Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County, & Town Sources (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing Co., 1991) and Elizabeth Petty Bentley, The Genealogist's Address Book (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 3d ed., 1995).

Census Schedules

The 1790-1820 population schedules were nearly all handwritten; the Government started using printed schedules in 1830. With each census, the forms asked for additional information. See Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, chapter 1, and 200 Years of U.S. Census Taking: Population and Housing Questions, 1790-1990 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1989). The latter work is available at some commercial bookstores.

The 1790-1840 schedules furnish only the names of the free heads of family, not of other family members. These schedules totaled the number of other family members, without name, by free or slave status. Also, the sex and age categories that the schedules first used only for free whites from 1790 through 1810 eventually applied to other persons, and the age categories increased after 1790.

The 1820 census first asked about naturalization status. The 1840 census included a special inquiry regarding pensioners for Revolutionary or military service. This section named persons who were either family heads or members and specified the pensioner's age, not just a range of ages. The results were summarized in Census of Pensioners: Revolutionary or Military Services . . . (Washington, DC: Blair and Rives, 1841). Roll 3 of First Census of the United States, 1790, National Archives Microfilm Publication T498 reproduces this report.

The 1850 census was the first to record each person's name, specific age, occupation of those over age 15, place of birth, and value of real estate. The slave schedules, however, name only the slave owner and indicate only if a slave was black or mulatto, and his or her sex and age.

The 1860 schedules were almost identical to those for 1850, but the 1860 census was the first to inquire about the value of each free person's personal estate.

The 1870 schedule asked if a person's father or mother were foreign born. Columns 19 and 20 cover "Constitutional relations." The enumerator checked column 19 if a male was a "citizen of the U.S. of 21 years of age and upwards." In column 20 the enumerator marked if a male citizen 21 years or older had his "right to vote denied or abridged on other grounds than rebellion or other crime." In other words, was the person denied the right to vote in violation of the 14th amendment, which guarantees citizenship, due process, and equal protection under the law for men regardless of race.

The 1880 schedule was the first to ask about the relationship of each individual to the head of the family, specifying what could only be assumed in earlier censuses. Moreover, the 1880 census was the first to inquire about the birthplace of each person's parents, including the country of those who were foreign born. The census gives the state or country of birth, not the city or county. A fire destroyed many 1890 population and special schedules, and water used to extinguish the blaze damaged many more. As a result, the Government disposed of most schedules. The few remaining 1890 population schedules or fragments are indexed. For information about the 1890 schedules and the fire, see Kellee Blake, "First in the Path of Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census," Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration 28 (Spring 1996): 64-81. The 1890 Special Schedules . . . Enumerating Union Veterans and Widows of Veterans of the Civil War (M123), are most important for providing data about the military service of veterans, including some Confederates. The information about post office addresses and sometimes streets and house numbers can lead outside the National Archives to important non-Federal records such as deeds, tax lists, and other property records that are mostly kept at local levels.


Catalog Arrangement

This catalog arranges the 1790-1890 schedules chronologically, and thereunder alphabetically by state and county. The counties are generally in alphabetical order. Some of the major cities, such as Philadelphia, are listed separately. The catalog also lists the enumeration districts (EDs) for the 1880 schedules.

Microfilm Problems

The National Archives acquired the master negative microfilm rolls from the Bureau of the Census and could not correct some problems with legibility. Also, some Census Bureau volume pages at the beginning of the schedules may omit or misorder counties, MCDs, or EDs and include other errors that the National Archives did not create but which this catalog reflects. The Soundex, prepared by the Works Progress Administration, and the microfilm produced by the Bureau of the Census may include additional problems. While the National Archives did not have the staff necessary to detect and correct all these problems, researchers who identify any may report them to the Records Control and Product Management Branch (NWP), National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408.


Census Indexes

Privately Printed Indexes

Privately printed indexes are available for most States or territories from 1790 through 1870 and for the 1890 special schedules. For each state or territory, these indexes typically alphabetize surnames (last names) and then given (first) names or other names and initials of heads of families and specify the county, city, and possibly an MCD. The Microfilm Research Room, regional records services facilities, and numerous libraries or other institutions have many of these indexes, which appear in microfilmed, microfiched, or published form. Many schedules have different kinds of page numbers. Forewards to the indexes, though, usually explain the approach used and may include helpful aids such as census maps, histories, and bibliographies. Some indexes for early censuses also transcribe most census data from the schedules.

Government Indexes

The Microfilm Research room and the 13 Regional Records Services facilities hold microfilmed indexes that the Federal Government prepared for the 1790, 1810, 1820, 1880, and 1890 censuses.

The Government Printing Office published and indexed the 1790 schedules of 11 States, along with Virginia data that was reconstructed from state enumerations from 1782 to 1785 and was intended to replace the missing 1790 schedules. National Archives Microfilm Publication T498, First Census of the United States, 1790, reproduces these works, which are also commercially reprinted. List of Free Black Heads of Families in the First Census, 1790, Special List 34, compiled by Debra L. Newman (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, rev. 1974), indexes names of free black heads of families nationwide. The 1840 census of Revolutionary War pensioners is reproduced on roll 3 of T498.

Index to the 1810 Census Schedules for Virginia (T1019) alphabetizes names, references counties, and notes volume, page, and line numbers of the schedules. Volume numbers that the index notes appear within the microfilm rolls, not in this catalog. Compilation of Tennessee Census Reports, 1820, National Archives Microfilm Publication T911, includes alphabetized indexes, partly transcribed data, and copies of an original 1820 schedule. Index to the Eleventh Census of the United States (M496) indexes the remaining 1890 population schedules. Roll 1 covers alphabetized surnames from A through J; roll 2, from K through Z. After the surname, the given or middle names and also initials are alphabetized. The numbers on the right-hand side for the cards refer to those stamped on the schedules.


The Soundex Coding System

The Soundex is a coded surname (last name) index based on the way a surname sounds rather than the way it is spelled. Surnames that sound the same, but are spelled differently, like SMITH and SMYTH, have the same code and are filed together. The Soundex coding system was developed to find a surname even though it may have been recorded under various spellings. Every Soundex code consists of a letter and three numbers, such as W252. The letter is always the first letter of the surname whether it is a consonant or a vowel. The numbers are assigned to the remaining consonants of the surname according to the Soundex guide. NARA's Soundex Machine can code your family's surname automatically.

Disregard the remaining vowels (A, E, I, O, and U) as well as W, Y, and H. Assign numbers to the next three consonants of the surname according to the coding guide included in table 1. Disregard any remaining consonants. If there are not three consonants following the initial letter, use zeroes to complete the three-digit code. For example, Lee is coded L000; Jones is coded J520; Western is coded W236; and Tymczak is coded T522 representing T, M, C, and K. The names are arranged by the Soundex code and then alphabetically by the first name.

Table 1. Soundex Coding Guide

After retaining the first letter of the surname and disregarding the next letters if they are A, E, I, O, U, W, Y, and H, then:

The number     Represents the letters

1              B, P, F, V

2              C, S, K, G, J, Q, X, Z

3              D, T

4              L

5              M, N

6              R


If the surname has a prefix, such as D', De, dela, Di, du, Le, van, or Von, code it both with and without the prefix because it might be listed under either code. The surname vanDevanter, for example, could be V-531 or D-153. Mc and Mac are not considered to be prefixes and should be coded like other surnames.

Double Letters

If the surname has any double letters, they should be treated as one letter. Thus, in the surname Lloyd, the second l should be crossed out. In the surname Gutierrez, the second r should be disregarded.

Side-By-Side Letters

A surname may have different side-by-side letters that receive the same number on the Soundex coding guide. For example, the c, k, s in Jackson all receive a number 2 code. These letters with the same code should be treated as only one letter. In the name Jackson, the k and s should be disregarded. This rule also applies to the first letter of a surname, even though it is not coded. For example, Pf in Pfister would receive a number 1 code for both the P and f. Thus in this name the letter f should be crossed out, and the code is P-236.

American Indian and Asian Names

A phonetically spelled American Indian or Asian name was sometimes coded as if it were one name. If a distinguishable surname was given, the name may have been coded in the regular manner. For example, Dances with Wolves might have been coded as Dances (D-522) or as Wolves (W-412), or the name Shinka-Wa-Sa may have been coded as Shinka (S-520) or Sa (S-000).

Soundex Cards

The Soundex microfilm rolls for the 1880 census include four different kinds of cards: Family Cards, Other Members of Family Continued Cards, Individual Cards, and Institution Cards. Below the coded surname at the top left of the card, the surname and then first name of the head of the family ordinarily appear as recorded on the schedule. The list at the end of this introduction, Abbreviations and Terms Used in Soundex Cards, is applicable to the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 Soundexes. It can help researchers determine the relationships of persons to the head of the family. The most important information to record is: State or territory; volume, ED, sheet, and line numbers; county, city, and MCD.

Other Soundex Cards

Frequently, if families include more than six members, the Family Card is followed by a related card. For very large families, more than one of these cards may appear. Handwritten numbers at the bottom of the cards refer to the first card (e.g., "#2, see #1"). Although the continuation card notes the name of the head of family and name, relationship, age, and birthplace of the other family member, this card excludes other personal information such as color and sex. It also omits most jurisdictional data found on the Family Card such as the county, city, MCD, and ED. Some researchers may need to search for a third kind of Soundex card, an Individual Card. This card contains data only on a child age 10 or under who (1) had a surname different from the head of family, or who (2) was not an immediate member of a family (e.g., stepson or nephew), or who (3) resided in an institution without a family. For the first two purposes, the Individual Card duplicates part of the information on a Family Card; it cross-references a census schedule. The Individual Card ordinarily is the only card referencing a particular child. Institution Cards appear at the end of the last roll of Soundex microfilm for a state or territory.

The Institution Cards, unlike the three other Soundex cards, are alphabetically arranged, not Soundex coded, by the first name of the institution. The first Institution card to appear in roll 168 names an institution whose name began with A Adams County, PA, Poorhouse. The Institution Cards exclude personal data on individuals and, at most, may note only the number of inhabitants.

Institution Cards include jurisdictional data necessary to find the correct census schedules (e.g., state, county, city, and ED). Street and house numbers also often appear on the cards. The cards exclude a printed heading for MCDs, but some indexers inserted this information on the line for city. Also, the cards have no caption for line numbers pertinent to the schedules, but some indexers inserted this information near the line for sheet number.

Not Reported Data

Occasionally, some people gave the enumerator only a surname, without any given or middle name, or the indexer may have found this information missing or illegible. Under these circumstances, Not Reported (NR) or a blank can appear on a card after a surname. Cards with this NR feature appear first within a code. On census schedules, after the surname, some enumerators may have recorded only initials for a person or an initial before the middle name. Such cards are arranged alphabetically and may appear after those with the NR-first name. They ordinarily precede cards with full names bearing the same first letter. The indexers may also have encountered an NR surname, with or without a given name and initials. Cards with an NR surname for the head of family are on the last Soundex roll for a state or territory, usually before the Institution Cards. Roll 34 of California's Soundex (T737) states "Not Reported thru Institutions," but most roll listings in this catalog do not reference this feature.

The NR-surname cards may include enough personal information such as color, sex, age, street, and house number to identify a person. Some cards also list members of the family or household by surname and may include an indexer's remarks about possible relationships.

Mixed Codes

"Mixed codes" means that codes on the cards may appear in nonconsecutive order; e.g., M-200 is followed by M-190, M-205, and then by M-189. In these instances, which divider cards usually note, researchers should disregard the codes and focus on the alphabetized given names.

This catalog alphabetically lists the States, District of Columbia, and territories; references the microfilm rolls at the far left; and then describes their coverage. The arrangement first cites the names of counties, which usually are in alphabetical order. Names of cities often appear separately from counties. Roll 1188 of the 1880 census schedules (T9), for example, covers part of the city of Philadelphia. Within cities or large urban areas, MCDs such as wards may be numbered and then usually listed in consecutive order.

Within counties, cities, or MCDs, EDs are the next most important data that the catalog notes, often in numerical order. In T9 rolls 1190-1194 pertain to Schuylkill County, EDs 1-238. In many instances, the catalog notes that rolls include certain sheets for an ED or other jurisdiction.

Match the county, city, MCD, ED, and sheet number listed on the Soundex card with the information or range provided in the catalog.

The 1880 schedule consists of four sides. Enumerators usually recorded the names of the city, county, and state and the number or name of the ward or other MCD only on the front of the schedule. Handwritten ED numbers are on the upper left side, on the third line.

Next match the sheet number recorded on the Soundex card with the page number on the first line of the upper left side of the schedule. The handwritten numbers on the schedules ordinarily start at 1 in each ED and continue consecutively on each sheet, A-D. Disregard the stamped numbers usually at the right side of the schedules.

Enumeration District Descriptions and Maps

Researchers who cannot find a name in Soundex or a commercial index may want to consult enumeration district (ED) descriptions and maps.

An ED refers to the area assigned to a single census-taker. ED descriptions pertinent to the schedules covered by this catalog are in Descriptions of Census Enumeration Districts, 1830-1890 and 1910-1950 (T1224). Table 2, ED Descriptions, 1830-90, in T1224, explains coverage of the 17 rolls pertinent to this catalog. An overview of these aids appears in Bruce Carpenter, "Using Soundex Alternatives: Enumeration Districts, 1880-1920," Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives 25 (Spring 1993): 90-93. A case study on the approach appears in Keith R. Schlesinger, "An Urban Finding Aid for the Federal Census," in Our Family, Our Town: Essays on Family and Local History Sources in the National Archives, comp. Timothy Walch (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1987), pp. 126-140.

Table 2. ED Descriptions, 1830-90, in T1224.

An asterisk (*) notes alphabetized states and territories.

Census Year Roll Number Remarks
1830-40 1 Arranged by region
1850-60 * 2 No 1850 data for Oregon Territory
1870 3 No data for Montana Territory but separate category for "Indians All States"
1880 * 4-6 No data for Alabama, Arizona Territory Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Montana Territory, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Roll 4, DK-KY; roll 5, LA-MO; and roll 6, NB-WY.
1890 * 7-17 Roll 7, AL-DE; roll 8, DC-IL; roll 9, IN-KS; roll 10, KY-MD; roll 11, MA-MN; roll 12, MS-NM; roll 13, NY; roll 14, NC-OR; roll 15, PA; roll 16, RI-TX; roll 17, UT-WY.

The title of T1224 contains a misnomer because EDs, strictly defined, were not used until the 1880 census. The early censuses used the term subdivision to refer to part of a supervisor's or marshal's division or district. Subdivisions in the early censuses comprised towns, townships, or other units comparable to MCDs.

Researchers must determine the state or territory and try to identify the county. Descriptions found in T1224 may help narrow the search by specifying what county certain localities (including MCDs, neighborhoods, or post offices) were in during certain census years.

The descriptions note street names or ranges and specify the corresponding EDs. Most early ED descriptions, however, are general and largely served as documentation of the names of enumerators and rates of pay. They may simply state that a census taker had to enumerate an entire county or an unspecified part of a subdivision. Beginning with 1850, the ED descriptions became increasingly detailed.

To use ED descriptions in T1224, a researcher should try to determine the location of a family, person, or institution in a certain census year. Especially for the late 1800s, death and birth certificates, city directories, tax records, or other sources may provide this information. The National Archives, though, has few of these records, which usually may be found in state or local repositories. The same research steps can help researchers find the 1890-1920 schedules, but most ED numbers changed for each census.

Maps can complement ED descriptions or provide substitutes for them. The National Archives does not have ED descriptions or ED maps for censuses from 1790 through 1820, therefore commercially or privately published maps are especially helpful and practical. Many commercial indexes for censuses include maps for a particular year and state. William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census, 1790-1920 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992) is especially useful in identifying counties and many localities in existence in early census years.

While the National Archives research rooms have some maps that can help researchers, the agency's Cartographic and Architectural Branch has some specially marked ED ("office copy") maps. They show streets, locations, or neighborhoods within cities and specify the ED.

Cartographic Records of the Bureau of the Census, Preliminary Inventory (PI) 103 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1958) discusses ED maps available in the National Archives. The appendix to PI 103 lists the maps by alphabetizing the names of states, specifying counties or other localities, and noting availability for the years 1880-1940. The National Archives has no pre-1880 ED maps, and maps for the 1880 census exist for only Washington, DC; Rockwall County, TX; and Atlanta in Fulton County, GA.

Only 11 ED maps exist for the 1890 census, and only one pertains to the remaining schedules. The exception is the map of Washington, DC, which shows part of the area to which a few schedules pertain; but this map is far less helpful than M496, the alphabetical index, in locating these schedules. To order copies of ED maps, write to the Cartographic and Architectural Branch (NWDNC), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Prices vary with the map size. Even full-scale maps, though, may be difficult to read, especially because black-and-white copies may obscure colored ED boundaries.


Other Schedules

While this catalog focuses on decennial population schedules, the National Archives has custody of numerous other Federal census records that can supplement and enrich genealogical projects and other research. Many of these records are microfilmed and can be purchased.

The Government occasionally conducted territorial and special censuses in interdecennial periods.

The 1885 special census enumerated Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, and South Dakota. The Government also used many special or supplemental schedules to collect nonpopulation data, which mostly concern manufacturing, agriculture, social statistics, and mortality (causes of death) in the year before the decennial census. The 1880 census, for example, included 4 supplemental schedules as well as 12 special manufacturing schedules and 7 schedules involving the defective, dependent, and delinquent classes.


Census enumerators did not count Indians not taxed, that is, Indians who lived on reservations or who roamed as nomads over unsettled tracts of land. Whether or not they were of mixed blood, Indians who had severed their tribal affiliations and lived among the general population or on the outskirts of towns, were counted as part of the ordinary population. Before 1870, however, there is seldom a way to identify such Indians in the census. Schedules of a Special Census of Indians, 1880 (M1791) reproduces a special 1880 enumeration of Indians living near military installations in Washington, Dakota Territories, and California. All other Indians should be enumerated in the state, county, or locality where they resided. Not until 1890 did the decennial census schedules enumerate the Indian population with any accuracy.

The records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs include many tribal census rolls, which are completely unrelated to the decennial census schedules. These are described in chapter 11 of Genealogical Research in the National Archives. Blacks

The first listing of all blacks by name in a Federal census was made in 1870, the first Federal census taken after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. In 1850 and 1860, slave statistics were gathered, but the census schedules did not list slaves by name; they were tallied unnamed in age and sex categories. These slave schedules are useful, however as circumstantial evidence that a slave of a certain age and sex was the property of a particular owner in 1850 or 1860.

Free blacks who were heads of households were enumerated by name in the censuses from 1790 to 1840, and the names of all free household members were included in the censuses of 1850 and 1860. For more information see Genealogical Research in the National Archives, section 12.2, Census Records, page 173.


Research Hints

The following tips may be useful:

The 1810 census includes some schedules or fragments dealing with that year's census of manufactures. For coverage, see PI 161, appendix IX.

Some transcribed data on the 1820 census of manufactures appears in T911, Compilation of Tennessee Census Reports, 1820. In some cities, the Government conducted second enumerations because of questions about the accuracy of the first. Researchers should determine whether or not two microfilm rolls copy schedules for the same area. For example, rolls 975 and 1014 of M593, Ninth Census of the United States, 1870, copy schedules for New York City, ward 1.

A fire destroyed most of the 1870 Minnesota schedules. M593, rolls 716-719, copies the remaining Federal schedules, while T132 reproduces the State copy. T132 also is noteworthy because it includes some mortality schedules interfiled with the population schedules.



Useful Publications

Details on many of these records appear in Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, chapter 1. Table 4 of the Guide (pp. 14-16) identifies most of the microfilm publications for the mortality schedules; section 1.3 of chapter 1 (pp. 28-38) discusses each state's special census schedules and problems. National Archives Microfilm Resources for Research: A Comprehensive Catalog (pp. 11-12) [search this catalog online] notes other nonpopulation and territorial censuses as well as special aids and Bureau of the Census publications.

Numerous details on little-known census records, including unmicrofilmed records, also appear in Records of the Bureau of the Census, PI 161 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1964). This free work is available from National Archives Product Sales Section (NWPS). See ordering information that follows. Researchers interested in unmicrofilmed records covered by PI 161 or in other census-related topics may write to the Textual Reference Branch (NWDT1-C), National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408. Free literature includes Aids for Genealogical Research which describes microfilm catalogs, such as the 1900 Federal Population Census, The 1910 Federal Population Census, and The 1920 Federal Population Census.

Other free literature includes Using Records in the National Archives for Genealogical Research, General Information Leaflet (GIL) No. 5; Military Service Records in the National Archives of the United States, GIL No. 7; Information about the National Archives for Prospective Researchers, GIL No. 30; The Regional Archives System of the National Archives, GIL No. 22; Fast Facts About the 1920 Census, GIL No. 43, which explains the most current publicly released decennial census; and Select List of Publications of the National Archives and Records Administration, GIL 3, which covers many additional free works such as preliminary inventories and reference information papers. GIL No. 5 is also important because it includes guidance on how to formally cite microfilmed census records.

Genealogy Section of the NARA web site


Census Availability and Access

Microfilmed copies of census records are available at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, at NARA's 13 regional records services facilities, and at many large libraries and genealogical societies that have purchased all or some of the microfilm. The public can also request mail-order paper copies of census schedules or purchase microfilm rolls.

Ordering Paper Copies by Mail

The National Archives in Washington, DC, can provide paper copies of specifically identified pages of Federal population census schedules through the mail. You can order online or use the NATF Form 82 (rev. 1992), Order for Copies of Census Records, and provide the following information:

  • the name of the individual
  • the page number
  • census year
  • state, and county

Researchers may request copies of NATF Form 82 online or by writing to the:
Textual Reference Branch (NWDT1-C),
National Archives and Records Administration,
Washington, DC 20408.

For the 1880 through 1920 censuses, the enumeration district is also necessary. Ordinarily, it is possible to use a Government or privately printed census index to locate this information.


Buying Digitized Microfilm

Digitized microfilm of census records are also available for purchase. 

Digitized copies of rolls of microfilm publications may be purchased at $125 per roll (including shipping) for U.S. orders ($135 for international orders).  These prices are subject to change without advance notice. Checks and money orders should be made payable to the "National Archives Trust Fund (NATF)." VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover are also accepted. Credit card orders must include the expiration date and the cardholder's signature. Do NOT send cash. 

FREE Publication FREE publications:
National Archives and Records Administration
Archives I Research Support Branch
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408-0001

866-272-6272 (toll-free)
or 202-357-5332


Check the order immediately upon receipt for errors, completeness, or damage in shipping. Notify the Product Sales Section of any problems within 60 days. Do not return microfilm orders without written permission from the Product Sales Section. For more information on how to order or for help identifying which rolls of a publication you may wish to purchase, contact

National Archives Product Sales Section (NWPS)
Room G7, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20408
Telephone: 202-501-7190 or 1-866-272-6272

Include the census year, the state, and the county or enumeration district.

Select Bibliography

In addition to the works mentioned in this introduction, most of which are described in Aids for Genealogical Research, the following literature includes chapters or information that may help with census research. Bibliographies in the commercial works refer to additional helpful sources. Also, the National Archives sells many commercial works not listed here that explain census research. An asterisk (*) below notes two National Archives works that are out of print, but researchers may examine copies in the National Archives library.

Delle Donne, Carmen R. Federal Census Schedules, 1850-1880: Primary Sources for Historical Research. Reference Information Paper 67. National Archives and Records Service, 1973. *

Eakle, Arlene and Johni Cerny, eds. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1984.

Federal Population and Mortality Census Schedules, 1790-1910, in the National Archives and the States: Outline of a Lecture on Their Availability, Content and Use. Special List 24. National Archives and Records Service, rev. 1986.

Fishbein, Meyer H. The Censuses of Manufactures, 1810-1890. Reference Information Paper 50. National Archives and Records Service, 1973. *

Greene, Evarts B. and Virginia D. Harrington. American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., reprint 1993.

Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. 2d ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1990. Guide to the Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 3 vols., 1995.

Lainhart, Ann S. State Census Records. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1992.

Publications of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-1916. National Archives Microfilm Publication T825 (42 rolls).

Szucs, Loretto Dennis and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking. The Archives: A Guide to the National Archives Field Branches. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Inc. 1988.

Wright, Carroll D. and William C. Hunt. The History and Growth of the United States Census. 56th Cong., 1st sess. S. Doc. 194. Serial 3856. (A commercial reprint is available.)


Regional Records Services Facilities

For current information about hours of operation, please call the appropriate regional records services facility.

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC

The National Archives at Boston
Areas Served: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

The National Archives at New York City
Area Served: New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands

The National Archives at Philadelphia
Area Served: Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia

The National Archives at Atlanta
Area Served: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee

National Archives at Chicago
Area Served: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin

National Archives at Kansas City
Area Served: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska

The National Archives at Fort Worth
Area Served: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas

National Archives at Denver
Area Served: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming

The National Archives at Riverside
Area Served: Arizona; southern California counties of Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura; and Clark County, Nevada

The National Archives at San Francisco
Area Served: North California, Hawaii, Nevada (except Clark County), American Samoa, and the Pacific Ocean area

The National Archives at Seattle
Area Served: Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington


Abbreviations and Terms Used in Soundex Cards

A      Aunt

Ad     Adopted

AdCl   Adopted child

AdD    Adopted daughter

AdGcl  Adopted grandchild

AdM    Adopted mother

AdS    Adopted son

Al     Aunt-in-law

Ap     Apprentice

Asst   Assistant

At     Attendant

B      Brother

Bar    Bartender

BBoy   Bound boy

BGirl  Bound girl

Bl     Brother-in-law

Bo     Boarder

Boy    Boy

Bu     Butler

C      Cousin

Cap    Captain

Cha    Chamber Maid

Cil    Cousin-in-law

Cl     Child

Coa    Coachman

Com    Companion

Cook   Cook

D      Daughter

Dl     Daughter-in-law

Dla    Day laborer

Dom    Domestic

Dw     Dishwasher

Emp    Employee

En     Engineer

F      Father

FaH    Farm hand

FaL    Farm laborer

FaW    Farm worker

FB     Foster brother

FF     Foster father

Fi     Fireman

FirstC First cousin

FL     Father-in-law

FM     Foster mother

FoB    Foster brother

FoS    Foster son

FoSi   Foster sister

GA     Great aunt

Gcl    Grandchild

GD     Granddaughter

GF     Grandfather

GGF    Great-grandfather

GGGF   Great-great-grandfather

GGGM   Great-great-grandmother

GGM    Great-grandmother

GM     Grandmother

Gml    Grandmother-in-law   

GN     Grand or great nephew

GNi    Grand or great niece

Go     Governess

GodCl  God child

GS     Grandson

Gsl    Grand son-in-law

GU     Great uncle

Gua    Guardian

Guest  Guest

Hb     Half brother

Hbl    Half brother-in-law

He     Herder

Help   Help

H.Gi   Hired girl

Hh     Hired hand

Hk     Housekeeper

Hlg    Hireling

Hm     Hired man

HMaid  Housemaid

HSi    Half sister

HSil   Half sister-in-law

Husband Husband

Hw     Houseworker

I      Inmate

L      Lodger

La     Laborer

Lau    Launderer

M      Mother

Maid   Maid

Man    Manager

Mat    Matron

ML     Mother-in-law

N      Nephew

Ni     Niece

Nil    Niece-in-law

Nl     Nephew-in-law

Nu     Nurse

O      Officer

P      Patient

Pa     Partner

Ph     Physician

Por    Porter

Pr     Prisoner

Pri    Principal

Prv    Private

Pu     Pupil

R      Roomer

S      Son

Sa     Sailor

Sal    Saleslady

Sb     Stepbrother

Sbl    Step brother-in-law

Scl    Step child

Sd     Stepdaugther

Sdl    Step daughter-in-law

Se     Servant

Se.Cl  Servant's child

Sf     Stepfather

Sfl    Step father-in-law

Sgd    Step granddaughter

Sgs    Step grandson

Si     Sister

Sl     Son-in-law

Sm     Stepmother

Sml    Step mother-in-law

Ss     Stepson

Ssi    Stepsister

Ssil   Step sister-in-law

Ssl    Step son-in-law

Su     Superintendant

Ten    Tenant

U      Uncle

Ul     Uncle-in-law

Vi     Visitor

W      Wife

Wa     Warden

Wai    Waitress

Ward   Ward

Wkm    Workman

Wt     Waiter


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Washington, DC