Accelerated Indexing Systems U.S. Census Indexes (on Microfiche)

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What are the AIS indexes?

Accelerated Indexing Systems (AIS) is a commercial company that indexes genealogical records. The microfiche version of the AIS U.S. Census indexes was published in 1984. It is distributed by the Family History Library, with the permission of AIS, for use in family history centers.

The Accelerated Indexing Systems indexes are alphabetical listings of some of the people living in the United States between 1607 and 1906. These listings were compiled from a variety of sources including the United States census records.

How the AIS indexes can help you

The AIS microfiche indexes (also called searches) can help simplify United States family history research. The indexes usually provide enough information about the individuals listed to help you find them in the original record. Using these indexes can save you time that might otherwise be spent looking through hundreds of documents.

Each AIS index covers a fairly broad time period (ten or more years) and a large geographical area (such as several states) which makes it easier to find your ancestor.

If your ancestor appears in the AIS indexes, you can usually locate the call number for the original source document in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog.

Many post-1850 censuses were indexed after this AIS index was compiled. In addition, some people appear more than once on a search, and as with any index, you may find some errors.

Four Steps to Follow

Using the microfiche AIS census indexes involves four basic steps:

  1. Select the right search.
  2. Find a name in the index.
  3. Interpret the index.
  4. Search the original record.

Step 1: Select the right search

The AIS microfiche indexes are divided into nine groups or searches. The nine searches index records of people living in the United States from 1607 to 1906, although the majority of the records cover the federal censuses from 1790 to 1850. The searches are divided by locality and by date. These divisions are shown below.

Step 2: Find a name in the index

To find an ancestor in the AIS indexes, you must know at least the surname. If the surname is common, you may need to know more information.

In addition to the surname, it is helpful to also have the—

  • Given name.
  • Approximate place of residence.
  • Approximate time period.
Search Years Locality
1 1607-1819 Entire United States
2 1820-1829 Entire United States
3 1830-1839 Entire United States
4 1840-1849 Entire United States
5 1850-1860* Southern states (AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA)
6 1850 New England and northern states (CT, DE, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT)
7 1850-1906* Midwestern and western states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MN, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OH, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY)
7a 1850-1906* Entire United States (searches 5, 6, and 7 compiled together)
8 1850-1885 United States mortality schedules only
*Not all states were completed when this index was compiled (1984). Many states have been indexed since then. The Family History Library Catalog identifies all census indexes available at the Family History Library.

To locate your ancestor in the AIS searches—

  • Find the set of microfiche for the search you selected in step 1. Determine which microfiche your ancestor might appear in. Names are listed alphabetically by surname. The first name on each microfiche appears in large letters at the top.
  • Locate your ancestor in the alphabetical listing.

Step 3: Interpret the index

Format of Searches 1 through 7a

The entries in Searches 1 through 7a follow the format of the chart in "Step 4" section.

Format of Search 8

The entries in Search 8 follow the format of the chart in the "Step 4" section. See the Abbreviations Key at the end of the document.

If your ancestor is listed within an entry, write down the information given.

Can’t find the name you are seeking?

Can’t find the name you are seeking?
You may not find the name you are seeking because—
  • Only heads of households are listed. The person you are seeking may not have been listed in the census.
  • The indexer may have missed the person or read the name wrong.
  • The person may not have been recorded in the census.
  • The index may have a typographical error.
  • The person may not have lived where or when you thought he did.
  • The name may have been spelled differently than what you looked for.

Step 4: Search the original record

Begin this step by determining what was the original record (column 5 or 6 on indexes 1 to 7a). Most entries come from federal census records. The original census records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under UNITED STATES - CENSUS. If you need help using the catalog, ask a staff member.

Copy the call numbers from the catalog. This number will help you order the appropriate record. You may also obtain census microfilms from other libraries and archives, such as the National Archives, its regional branches, and private companies.

The Format of Searches 1 through 7a

The format of Searches 1 through 7a is shown below.

Most other sources, usually in Search 1, are lists of residents. They may come from colonial petitions, passenger arrivals, naturalizations, tax records, voter lists, and other sources. Search the appropriate state research outline for lists matching the type of records and date(s) given in the index. The non-census record type is often identified in column 5 or 6.

Searches 1 through 7a

The Format of Search 8

The format of Search 8 (mortality schedules) is shown below.

If the Family History Library has the mortality schedules, they are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the name of the state, and the topic CENSUS or VITAL RECORDS. If you cannot find them in the library catalog, contact the state library or archives of the state in which the mortality schedule was taken (see the state outlines).

Search 8

Abbreviations Key

Postal code abbreviations were used for the United States.

The following abbreviations are used in Searches 1 to 7a.

For birthplaces in Search 8, see the original mortality schedule.

C Continental census CL Colonial CO County CS County census DIST District FO Fidelity oath NG Not given NPN No page number PRSH Parish PT Petitioners list RR Rent role RS Residents list S State or colonial census ST State or colonial census T Territorial census TERR Territory TWP Township TX Tax list (Many tax lists are indexed by month; for example, JUNTX, JULTX, AUGTX, JANTX.)

UK Unknown UN Unknown UNK Unknown

  • Interpretation is questionable
    • Interpretation is very questionable

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