Federal Population Censuses and Indian Census Rolls
Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940
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.
Compared to the Population Census, 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.
Federal Population Censuses, 1790-1940
The Federal Population Census can provide the building blocks of your research, allowing you to confirm information and learn more about an individual or family. Currently, researchers can access the Censuses from 1790 through 1940.
Researchers generally begin with the most recent Census and work backwards in ten year increments to locate individuals or families in previous generations. To search you will need the name and location of the individual or family. Try to find your individual or family on as many Censuses as possible as certain questions change for each Census.
The National Archives does not have online name indexes to Census records. Please visit our partner organizations for digitized images and indexes.