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What Can U.S. Census Records Search Tell You About Your Ancestors?

Aside from general information such as age, birthplace, and marital status of your ancestors, the U.S. Federal Census contains valuable insights into your family’s history. Was your ancestor one of the many immigrants that made their way to America in hopes of a brighter future? If so, their immigration and citizenship information was likely recorded. You can even find the exact year they came to the United States and the address they lived at when they first arrived. Or use their marital status to find related family members and further build out your family tree.

In addition, you can search U.S. census records to find relatives including their children and siblings of your ancestors. Filling in the gaps of your family lineage will allow you to gain a better understanding of your family history.

Search U.S. Census Records & Uncover Details about Your Family Story

Starting in 1850 the following data was recorded on Census forms for all individuals in each household. Note, the earlier census records (from 1790-1840) only listed the head of household and the number of household members, but only in select age groups.

  • Names of family members & their ages
  • Their state or country of birth
  • Their parent's birthplaces
  • Year of immigration
  • Street address
  • Marital status & years of marriage
  • Occupation(s)
  • Value of their home and personal belongings
  • The crops that they grew (in agricultural schedules), etc.

Tips on Searching US Census Records Online

Use the most current census year available and work backwards to find ancestors in earlier generations. Today, the most current census data available is the 1940 census due to a 72-year restriction on access to census reports.Another helpful tool to use when searching the census archives is to only use your ancestor’s first initial when conducting your inquiry. Some census takers only recorded the first initial instead of the entire full name of an individual.If you are having a difficult time finding information regarding your ancestor by name, narrow your search and add in their place of birth, or other family members. This information can help you get a better search result that’s specific to your lineage, especially if you have a common last name.Using the information found in the census such as location and names of family members, you can build on your research and search nearby cemeteries, schools, or churches that your ancestor’s could have been a member gaining more insights into your ancestors. The US Census and other genealogical resources such as newspaper archives and U.S. obituaries provide a greater understanding of your ancestors’ lives, interests, and the events which defined them. With just a name you can access a world of information through GenealogyBank’s comprehensive and digitized U.S. census records.

Start your search and learn more about your family history today! 

About the Federal Census Collection

The United States federal census bureau has collected data on citizens every ten years since 1790. Starting on August 2, 1790, the US government began the first census to gain valuable information about the American population and the economy. Initially, the Federal census only collected data on the heads of households, but as of the 1850 census questions were expanded to include all household members and additional Census data points. In addition to collecting data from respondents through census forms and surveys, the US census bureau pulls additional data from federal, state and local governments. In regards to budgeting for the U.S. Census, the House of Representatives determines how much federal funding the bureau receives.

Find your ancestors and search the most recent U.S. Federal Census records: