Genealogy Friday: Why Are Census Records Such a Great Asset

Census records are a wonderful resource for the family historian.

census records              Often the census records are the only resource you may be able to find on your family.

Census records have become very easy to search and are a great place to start in your search for your family.

American Census Records are the oldest in the modern world.  They began in 1790 and continue today.  However, from 1790-1840 the census records only provide the head of household.  From 1850 on, every family member is listed on the record.  Unfortunately, the 1890 census was destroyed and is unavailable.

Before the early 20th Century, birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates did not exist.  Some states had marriage bonds, but not all of them.

In the early 20th Century, these certificates became more common place.

The three most reliable places to check for records in the 19th Century are:

  1. Census Records—these are taken every ten years and provides a snap shot of the family at that time.    family bibles
  2. Family Bible—many family provided births, deaths and marriages in the family Bible and passed them down through the generations.
  3. Newspapers—if the locale of your ancestor had a newspaper at that time, this is a great resource to check.  You may want to check with the local library to see what is available.  Many early newspapers are now digitally available at Chronicling America and

Of these sources, census records provide a steady snap shot into the lives of our ancestors because they were taken every ten years.

Join the Conversation: How have census records helped you?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.