California Census

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United States  >  U.S. Census  >  California  >  Census

Available and Lost Census Schedules

California: Existing and Lost Federal Census Schedules[1][2][3]
Exact Date Population Schedules Veterans/ Pensioners Slave Owners Mortality Agricultural Industrial/ Manufact- urers Defective Indian[4]
1940 Apr 1 Public release in 2012 - - - - - - -
1930 Apr 1 Exist - - - - - - -
1920 Jan 1 Exist - - - - - - -
1910 Apr 15 Exist - - - - - - Exist
1900 Jun 1 Exist - - - - - - Exist
1890 Jun 2 Lost Lost  - - - - - -
1880 Jun 1 Exist - - Exist Exist Exist Exist -
1870 Jun 1 Exist - - Exist Exist Exist - -
1860 Jun 1 Exist - Exist Exist Exist - -
1850 Jun 1 Exist except Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Santa Clara - Exist Exist Exist - -

Sources and Notes

  1. Anne Bruner Eales, and Robert M Kvasnicka, ed., Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States, 3d ed. (Washington, D.C.: NARA, 2000), 31.
  2. William Thorndale, and William Dollarhide, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1987), 43-50.
  3. William Dollarhide, The Census Book: A Genealogists Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules and Indexes (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1999), 103.
  4. Only for Indian schedules taken along with Federal population schedules.


1850-1930--The National Archives, the California State Library and the Family History Library has the U.S. federal censuses for the state of California.

1890--Census has been destroyed.   

United States Censuses 1850-1920—Free Internet census indexes and images to the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 (index only), 1900, and 1920 (partial index only) can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search. These indexes show every name listed on the census, and except for 1880 and 1920, are also linked to census images including information about each person’s residence, age, birthplace, occupation, other family members, and neighbors.

1940 to 2000--Can be obtained by heirs or legal representatives for named persons. There is a legal charge mandated fees for this service. More recent census records for deceased family members are available to direct line only. Transcript form B.C.600 can be obtained from:

Personal Census Search Unit
US Census Bureau
PO Box 1545
Jeffersonville, IN, 47131

Historical Background

1821--Spain granted Mexico its independence.  California was included with Mexico.

1848--Mexico ceded California to the United States.

1850--California became a state.


United States Census Indexes 1850-1920—Free Internet census indexes to the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1920 (partial index only) can be viewed on the FamilySearch Record Search.

California Census years 1850, 1860, and 1870 have been indexed. They are available at the Californina State Library and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Statewide indexes are available in book format for the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses. Soundex (phonetic) indexes are available on microfilm for part of the 1880 and all of the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses.

 1850 census is not complete. Several counties are missing.

Special Censuses

Mortality Schedules

1850-1880--Mortality schedules for the censuses are at the California State Library. A published index to the 1850 schedule is available at the Family History Library.  Those schedules included inquiries about people who died during the 12 months shortly after the federal census was taken 

The mortality schedule is an alphabetical list of people who died in the twelve months proceeding the federal census. The Mortality schedules include the name, gender, age, place of birth, month of death, occupation, and cause of death. The schedules could give race as well.

State Censuses

California has some industral and Agriculture schedules for the years 1850,1860, 1870 and 1880. The information in those schedules show name name of the land owner or manager, the acres of land, the present cash value, the number and value of live stock and crops.

Territorial Censuses

Colonial and State

Pre-statehood lists (called padrons) of Spanish, Mexican, and Indian residents have been published in The Quarterly (Historical Society of Southern California), Volumes 15, 18, 41-43, 54 (Family History Library book 979.4 B2s). Especially helpful are the Los Angeles censuses of 1790, 1836, and 1844. The original records are scattered among various archives. The Family History Library has copies on microfilm.

The California State Library and the Family History Library have copies of a state census of 1852 (Family History Library films 909229-34). This census gives information on the entire household, including an individual's state or country of birth and last residence.

The California State Archives also has some censuses for California cities covering the period 1897 to 1938. These generally contain only the names and addresses of the persons enumerated, although some records give more information. The Family History Library has copies of several of these censuses through 1910, including:

Los Angeles and San Jose (1897)
San Diego (1899)
Oakland (1902)

Web Sites

FamilySearch Record Search has free indexes and images for 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1900; but indexes only for 1880, and 1920.


Heritage Quest Online:

Census Finder:

Census Online:

Access Genealogy:

Distant Cousin:

Genealogy Today:

National Archives:

California States archives and Libraries:

California Historical Society:

US Census internet site:

Mortality Schedules: