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State Census Presentation for U.S. Genealogy Records
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State Census Presentation for U.S. Genealogy Records

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  • Good overview of erly U.S. Census records
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  • Transcript

    • 1. State and Colonial Census Records
    • 2. Historical Background
      • Colonial censuses were often taken to determine military strength
      • 1787 – Constitution called for an enumeration of the people within 3 years on a federal level
      • From 1790 to 1880, census districts were aligned with existing civil districts
      • Most census enumerations until well into the 1800’s were taken by tax assessors and used for that purpose
    • 3. Strengths
      • An important source for placing individuals in a certain place, at a certain time
      • May be the only record to give documentation of family relations, birth date and place
      • Will often point to other critical records such as land, court, military and naturalization records
    • 4. Weaknesses
      • Legibility
        • Handwriting
      • Undercounting
        • Remote areas not counted
        • Mistrust of the government
      • Over counting or padding the numbers
    • 5.
      • Often taken in years between federal censuses
      • At times, were designed to collect specific data such as:
        • Financial strengths and needs of the community
        • Number of school age children
        • Military strength
      State Census
    • 6.
      • May fill in missing gaps left by missing federal censuses
      • May not be closed to the public for a seventy-two year period as are federal censuses
      • May ask different questions than federal censuses – information that may not be found in federal records
    • 7.
      • Sometimes the enumerator added special comments
        • From an 1865 New York census for Granville, Washington County, “These 11 live in a little shanty 12 by 12 only one room, how they sleep is a puzzle to me I think they can’t all get in at once.”
        • In the 1865 census of Hanson, Massachusetts it is noted that, “Hannah Barker was the oldest person in town, retaining all her mental faculties; Eyesight good.”
        • State Census Records by Ann Lainhart, p 11-12
    • 8. May ask different questions than the federal census
      • More detailed questions may be asked in local and state censuses
        • 1865 – Massachusetts – asked if males were legal voters or naturalized voters – helps narrow the search for naturalization dates
        • 1855, 1865, and 1875 New York censuses list county of birth for those born in New York
        • 1865 – Rhode Island – lists town of birth for those born in Rhode Island
    • 9.
      • Many post-Civil War state censuses ask for information about veterans, some even giving regiment and company in which they had served
    • 10. Fills in the gaps created by the missing 1890 Federal census
      • Many state and territorial censuses were taken in 1885, 1892 and 1895
      • New York
        • 1892, 1890 Police Census (New York City)
      • New Jersey
        • 1885, 1895
    • 11. Contents
      • Similar to the federal census
        • Given name
        • Surname
        • Place of birth
        • Age
      • For New York State
        • LeBarron, Laura, “Contents of the New York State Census,” New York Genealogical and Biographical Society website
    • 12. Delaware
      • During the colonial period few censuses were taken
      • No census enumerations after statehood
    • 13. Maryland
      • 1776 - Compiled from oaths of allegiance ordered by the colonial government of Maryland
      • 1778 – Tallied those who were opposed to the American Revolution
        • Mennonites and Quakers
        • Some remaining Tories
        • Others who refused to take oath
    • 14. New Jersey
      • Began in 1855 for the apportionment of the state legislature
      • Every ten years until 1915
    • 15. New York
      • Took a census every ten years from 1825 to 1875, one in 1892, then every ten years from 1905 to 1925
      • Only the head of the household is listed from 1825 to 1845
      • Beginning in 1855 in New York, the name of every person in the household is listed
      • The 1855 to 1875 census asked the person for the name of the country that the person was born in
      • No New York censuses after 1925
    • 16.
      • Very few of the New York state censuses have been indexed (the exception is Steuben County which has indexed all names in every census)
      • Existing original census records are usually in the county courthouse or with the county historian
      • The FHL has the most complete collection of films of the New York State census
      • 1890 – Special police (municipal) census in New York City
    • 17. Pennsylvania
      • No state censuses exist for the state
    • 18. Bibliographies
      • Dubester, Henry, State Censuses: An Annotated Bibliography of Censuses of Population Taken After the Year 1790 by States and Territories of the United States , Washington, D.C: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1948
    • 19. Resources
      • Buckway, G. Eileen and Fred Adams,“U.S. State and Special Census Register: A Listing of Family History Library Microfilm Numbers,” Salt Lake City: Family History Library, 1992.
        • An inventory arranged by state and census year
        • Describes the contents of each census
        • Provides microfilm numbers at the FHL for most known existing state censuses
        • Available at the reference area on the 2 nd floor
    • 20.
      • Lainhart, Ann S., State Census Records , Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992.
      • Joselyn, Roger D., New York State Censuses and Tax Lists , New York Genealogical and Biographical Society website www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org
      • Valentine, John F., “State and Territories Census Records in the United States, ” Genealogical Journal 2 (4) (December 1973): 133-39.