by Brian Mavrogeorge (bmavrogeorge@palladium.XXX XXX=net)
The Constitution of the United States specifies that a census be taken every 10 years. At first, federal marshals were tasked with overseeing census activities (the Bureau of the Census was not formed and funded until 1902).You can find microfilm copies of the census schedules for 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, fragments of the 1890, 1900, 1910, and 1920 at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., regional branches of the National Archives, the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, and at other public, private, and institutional libraries throughout the country. Sometimes the parts of the federal census that deal with enumerating people (population, mortality, slave, and veteran schedules) don't have what you need. Consider checking the state census records. Some states took their own periodic censuses to qualify for statehood, additional representatives in Congress, special federal funding projects, and for other reasons.
These state records complement the federal returns in that the enumerators asked different questions than those doing the federal enumeration, and the state censuses were conducted in years in between the federal census.
As an example, the 1875 census in Kansas lists: the individual's location, name, description (including age, sex, color, occupation, place of birth), the last residence before moving to Kansas, whether an apprentice or learning profession in what field, and the previous military unit if a veteran.
Other states with some form of surviving 20th-century enumerations, including special military, school or veteran lists, were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
This additional "in between" information will help you track where an ancestor lived and what the previous residences might have been, and reveal the names of children who were born and died between the federal censuses. Some of the state census records have been abstracted and some indexed. Check the FHL Catalog at a local Family History Center for published abstracts and indexes. The FHL also has microfilm of some state censuses. For a good overview of census records with detailed examples of the questions asked in each federal census, I consult the "Family Tutor: Basic Genealogy Records." This multimedia tutorial is available as part of the continuing series of genealogy tutorials in Ultimate Family Tree <http://www.uftree.com>.
And, I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the 1910 New York City census on CD-ROM. Those pesky immigrant ancestors won't be hidden for long!
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REVIEW: Genealogical Data Cooperative Weekly News Vol. 1, No. 15, 23
September 1998; Copyright (c) 1998 RootsWeb Genealogical Data Cooperative