Colorado State Census, 1885 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Colorado State Census, 1885
This article describes a collection of records at
Colorado, United States
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Record Description
Record Type Census
Record Group RG 29: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007
Collection years 1885
Microfilm Publication M158. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007. 8 rolls.
Arrangement Alphabetically by County
National Archives Identifier 358 2791166
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
National Archives and Records Administration

What is in This Collection?

The Colorado State Census, 1885 collection consists of a name index for the population schedules listing the inhabitants of the state of Colorado and images for the population, mortality, manufactures and agriculture schedules. The 1885 census was taken at the request of the United States Federal Government and with their assistance. The records are handwritten on pre-printed pages with rows and columns. 40 Colorado counties had been formed in 1885, all but Fremont and Garfield are represented in this collection.

The collection was taken from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) microfilm number M158, Schedules of the Colorado State Census of 1885, which is part of Record Group 29 Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007. The microfilm pamphlet is available for download from the National Archives Microfilm Resources for Research: A Comprehensive Catalog.

General Information about the 1885 Census

In March of 1879, Congress passed an act authorizing the tenth and following censuses. In addition to the regular censuses taken every ten years, this act also made authorized a census to be taken in the middle of the decade. On 1 June 1885, a special federal census of Colorado was taken following the guidelines outlined in the March 1879 census act. The 1885 census included four general schedules: population, agriculture, manufactures, and mortality. These schedules are organized alphabetically by county and then by the number assigned to each type of schedule. Within each type of schedule, the records are arranged by enumeration district. The 1885 population schedule resembles a typical census schedule and can provide valuable information that can be used to fill the gap caused by the loss of the 1890 federal census in the 1921 Department of Commerce fire.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Colorado State Census, 1885.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:


  • Name of every member of the household
  • Relationship to the head of household
  • Gender
  • Age
  • If born within the last year age in months
  • Race
  • Single, married, widowed, or divorced
  • Profession or occupation
  • Number of months unemployed in the previous year
  • If disabled and nature of the disability
  • If attended school within the past year
  • Whether can read, write, or speak English
  • Birthplace
  • Father's birthplace
  • Mother's birthplace

Collection Content

Sample Images

Coverage Map

Below is a map of the county boundaries in Colorado in 1885. No data for the 1885 Colorado Census is available for the counties which are shaded red.

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The age of your ancestor
  • The names of other members in the household

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the County
  2. Select the Town or Enumeration District Number
  3. Select the Schedule to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

  • Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date to find vital records such as birth, christening, marriage, and death
  • Search for the family in land and probate records
  • Use the date found to search county records where the family lived

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names

Record Finder

Consult the Colorado Research Tips and Strategies and its Record Finder to search other records

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"Colorado State Census, 1885." Database with images. FamilySearch. : 14 June 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M158. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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