How to search U.S. Census records?

What is easiest way to search U.S. Census records?

  • The 1950 US Census will soon be released to the public and will be transcribed and indexed faster than you can say jackrabbit.  Previous US Census have been transcribed and indexed and you can do individual surname lookups at my favorites. has them along with a whole bunch of vital records, worldwide.  If you have money coming out of your pockets, you can subscribe to fee based on-line sites.  But if you're cheap like me, head over to your local library and see if they provide access to the library editions of and

    Keep an open mind that in spite of the best efforts, some people and families were missed.  My Mom and Uncle Reese and some other family members aren't in the 1920 US Census.  I believe there were quite a few as the Spanish influenza was keeping people distant.

    But, say you can't find a maiden name for a family member?   Whether city or country, a look-see for neighbors of similar age of your missing maiden names in an earlier census.  If you see in the 1940 census your married male and no surname for the wife, look in the 1930 census or before if the marriage occured even earlier.  And look around the block or the next farm or two over and see if one of the daughters with the same given name is there or missing from the even earlier census.

    Every US Census enumeration district (ED) and supervisor district (SD) and maps changed over the years and familysearch has assembled them, but you have to associate a spot on one map to one ten or twenty years distant in time.  Enough time for towns to change names or disappear.

    Familysearch and Ancestry also include spelling variations, but don't rule out a search handing you nothing, learn the use of question marks (?) and asterisks (*), that would be another good question for the experts.  I am not.

    Happy Hunting!

  • It is yet to be proven how accurate the index that NARA will provide.  Given it involves artificial intelligence and OCR working with handwritten entries, I'm certain lots of cleanup will be needed.  See posted 14 December 2021 at the NARA News website.

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